Sacrifices of Joy

being —

Meditations on the Epistle to the Philippians - 4

G C Willis.

Chapter 38

A Help or a hindrance?

"Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, (my) dearly beloved.

I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. And I entreat thee also, true yoke-fellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and (with) other my fellow-labourers, whose names (are) in the book of life."

"So - then, my Brothers, beloved and passionately-longed-for, my joy and crown, thus stand-fast in (the) Lord, Beloved.

Euodia I-urge, and Syntyche I-urge, to-mind the same-(thing) (or, to-be-of the same mind) in (the) Lord. Yes, I-entreat even thee, true Yoke-Fellow, take-hold-along-with them, (these women), in-that-they struggled-along-with me in the gospel, with Clement also and my remaining fellow-labourers, whose names (are) in (the) book of-life.

Philippians 4:1-3

The words "So then," link this verse to the chapter we have just been considering. There we saw the fight fought, the victory won, and our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, able to subdue all things: "So then, &mdash my Brothers," with such a hope, and such a Lord, "thus stand-fast in the Lord, Beloved." We are fighting under a Captain who is able to subdue every foe: a Captain who has never lost a battle, and never will: So then, we may well 'stand-fast in the Lord.' It is the voice of the Captain cheering on His soldiers to stand fast against the shock of a charge by the enemy.

But before we speak of this, we must first bask for a while in the sunshine of the love that radiates from this verse: "My Brothers, beloved and passionately longed for, my joy and crown, … Beloved." Our lovely Authorized Version has "Dearly Beloved," in each case, instead of "Beloved" alone: and I confess I like it better: and it may be right: only in the original it has but the one word, "Beloved", with no word qualifying it. But it is the stronger word, telling of the Love of God: and I am not sure that our own English word, "Beloved", may not have lost some of the fervour that is contained in the Greek; and so "Dearly Beloved," may give the apostle's meaning more truly.*

{*It is also difficult to decide whether we should say 'longed-for,' or 'passionately longed-for.' It comes from a word epi-potheo. Potheo, alone, means I long for, I yearn after. (Liddell & Scott). By adding epi, 'the idea of straining after the object (is) thereby suggested, (so) it gets to imply eagerness. … It is a significant fact, pointing to the greater intensity of the language, that, while the simple words potheo, pothein etc., are never found in the New Testament, the compounds epi-potheo (etc.) … occur with tolerable frequency.' (Lightfoot). We have used 'passionately longed for' in Phil. 1:8: I hope rightly: so we use it again here.}

As has been mentioned, this has been called 'Paul's love-letter.' Another has said, — 'This prolonged form of address has no parallel in St. Paul's writings.' But then, perhaps, the Philippian saints had 'no parallel' in the affection the Apostle bore towards them. Notice that final 'Beloved,' he seems to linger over this theme, as if unable to break away from it. It makes me think of the way 'a certain Man' seemed to delight to repeat 'greatly beloved' in Daniel 10:5, 11 & 19, and then adds, "Be strong, yea, be strong." This love, known and treasured, whether with Daniel, whether with the Philippian saints, or whether with ourselves, makes strong: for 'Love is strong as death.'

And then he calls them, "My joy and crown." It is the 'victor's wreath,' of which he speaks here: the prize for winning in an athletic contest. It is the crown of 'glory and honour' our Saviour won, (Heb. 2:9), by wearing the crown of thorns. We suggested that the prize mentioned in Phil. 3 was Christ Himself. But here it is the saints in Philippi who are his crown. This may be another prize: for the Lord does not stint His gifts. It does not say if this is a present reward, or future. But in 1 Thess. 2:19 the Apostle writes: "What is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?" This would seem to indicate that it is a future reward: but I have not a doubt that both the Thessalonian saints and the Philippian saints were an unspeakable joy to the Apostle even now down here: so it is possible both present and future are included: at least in the joy. Those who have had the joy of winning souls to Christ will well understand his meaning. And after this, he still must repeat: — "Beloved!"

Having lavished his love upon them, he now enjoins:
"Thus stand-fast in (the) Lord."
Do you remember Shammah the son of Agee the Hararite? He is one of my special favourites. "The Philistines were gathered together into a troop, where was a piece of ground full of lentiles: and the people fled from the Philistines. But he stood in the midst of the ground, and defended it, and slew the Philistines: and the Lord wrought a great victory." (2 Sam. 23:11-12). Shammah stood fast. It is a grand thing to stand, and better still to stand fast. Many a victory has been won by a single soldier of Christ, because he stood fast. In Gal. 2:11 we read of Paul winning just such a victory, single-handed, at Antioch. And, on the other hand, 'many mighty men are lost, by daring not to stand.'

In Phil. 1:27 we have met this same word: only there it is "standing fast in one spirit, with one soul, together contending for the faith of the Gospel, and not being scared in anything." The Apostle would have his beloved Philippian brethren standing together as a regiment of soldiers, not one giving way.

In the following cases in the New Testament we are to stand fast:
'In the faith.' 1 Cor. 16:13.
'In the liberty!' Gal. 5:1.
'In one spirit.' Phil. 1:27.
'In the Lord.' (2) Phil. 4:1 & 1 Thess. 3:8.
'In the instructions of Paul.' 2 Thess. 2:15. (New Trans.)
'To his own Master the servant stands fast or falls.' Rom. 14:4.

You have, I am sure, noticed how often we get the word 'stand' in connection with 'the whole armour of God' in Ephesians 6. In verse 11; twice in verse 13; and again in verse 14. The word is different, and perhaps not as emphatic as the one we have been considering: but it plainly shows how important it is to stand. A beloved brother once said to me, "All giving up is of the devil." And I believe he was right. Let us never give up: for remember we are exhorted to 'stand fast in the Lord.'

One of the special marks of the boards of the Tabernacle was that they were 'standing up.' (Ex. 26:15; 36:20). How did they stand? Each board stood on two sockets of solid silver, (each weighing about 114 pounds) and Moses 'fastened' the sockets. (Ex. 40:18): so how firm and solid they must have been. Each board had two 'hands' (Ex. 26:17: Margin) that took firm hold of the silver sockets. The sockets were made from the "redemption money", and told of the Redemption which is in Christ Jesus: so is absolutely secure. Each board tells of an individual believer. Each took fast hold of each socket with the "hands" of faith; and the top was held fast by cords (Ex. 35:18) . We read of the cords of a man, with bands of love (Hosea 11:4), so I think the cords tell of love: and once again we find that love makes all strong and firm. So in this beautiful picture we see each believer is to "stand fast in the Lord".

"Stand fast in Christ;" ah! yet again
    He teacheth all the band;
If human efforts are in vain,
    In Christ it is we stand".

We have already noticed that in these few verses in Philippians we have seen the saint run: which tells of pressing toward the mark, at the end of the race. We have seen him walk, which tells of his behaviour, his "walk" through this world, before those about him. Now we are called on to see him stand. Perhaps this is hardest of all, and if we try in our own strength, we will surely fall; but we are specially told it is "in the Lord", we are to stand: and in our last verse of Phil. 3, we read: "HE IS ABLE"

In Psalm 1:1, we read "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful". So we see we may "walk" and "stand" and "sit", in the wrong way, as well as "run" and "walk" and "stand" in the right way. May the Lord help us to choose the right!

We come now to the sad sight of a hindrance to the Apostle's exhortation to "stand fast". A regiment of soldiers cannot possibly stand fast if they are not of one mind, but are engaged in opposing each other instead of the enemy: and that is just what was happening in Philippi.

"Euodia I urge, and Syntyche I urge, to mind the same thing (or, to be of the same mind) in (the) Lord." (Phil. 4:2)

Euodia* and Syntyche were two sisters in Philippi between whom a misunderstanding, or quarrel, had arisen. Paul knew these two sisters well for they had shared his contest in the Gospel in the early days, when first he preached there. We do not know what was the cause of the quarrel, but we do know that "Only by pride cometh contention". (Prov. 13:10). It is probable that Epaphroditus had brought word to Paul of this sad trouble in the assembly at Philippi: and I think it had weighed heavily on the apostle's mind as he has been writing. In the second verse of the second chapter, he had written: "Fulfil my joy when ye mind the same thing". Now he uses exactly the same words, but this time addressed directly to the ones quarrelling. It would seem that he had them in mind when he wrote these words the first time.

{* Euodia, not Euodias, is probably the correct reading.}

Notice how wisely he speaks to these sisters: "Euodia I urge, Syntyche I urge, to mind the same thing in the Lord". He does not say, "I urge Euodia and Syntyche". But he speaks to each one separately: not suggesting one is more to blame than another. Indeed he makes no suggestion of any blame. You remember our Lord said: "If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift". (Matt. 5:23-24). That is what these sisters should have done. The Greek word for "be reconciled" is di-allasso. This word is never used for man to be reconciled to God. Then it is a different word, kat-allasso. Di-allasso denotes mutual concession after mutual hostility, an idea absent in kat-allasso. (Abbott-Smith, quoting Lightfoot). It would seem that when saints have a quarrel or misunderstanding, the Lord sees that generally, if not always, there is fault on both sides; and both need to make concessions. Euodia would have to make concessions to Syntyche, and Syntyche would need to make concessions to Euodia. There is a possible exception to this in the case of a wife who had left her husband and wished to be reconciled to him again: 1 Cor. 7:11: here katallasso is used. But this, perhaps, we can understand, as she (a Christian woman) had been told not to depart from her husband. I think every other case where this word is used, is speaking of man being reconciled to God: where, of course, man only is wrong, and makes concessions.

Paul knew the Scripture, "The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention before it be meddled with" (Prov. 17:14). This would make him the more urgent to see this strife settled. Mr. Lavington writes: "From a small beginning, if it is not judged, evil will spread. How many a time from a very small root there has arisen that which has taken floods of tears to settle. Let us be watchful. Beloved, if you have anything against one another, judge it before the Lord. You cannot be happy with the Lord, while you are not of one mind with your brethren".

On the other hand, there are times when the truth and glory of God are concerned, and we dare not give in on such questions. Some years ago there was a very popular writer who remarked: "Let the truth of God suffer, but let not love suffer". This we cannot do. Let God be true, but every man a liar. But we need to be exceedingly careful that it is not our own opinion and our own will that we are pressing. Cromwell wrote to his fellow-Christians in Scotland: "I beseech thee by the mercies of the Beloved to try to conceive of the possibility of being wrong". I recall my Mother once saying: "In a quarrel, give way whenever you possibly can, and then it will be known, if you do not, that it is because you cannot do so with a good conscience". I think that is sound advice.

"Yes, I entreat even thee, true Yoke-Fellow, take-hold-along-with them, (these women), in that they struggled along with me in the Gospel" (Phil. 4:3).

There is a very beautiful change from the word Paul used to address Euodia and Syntyche, to the word he uses to his "true yoke-fellow". He gives what is almost a command to Euodia and Syntyche: but of his colleague he asks a favour. Only in his letters to his beloved Macedonian Christians (in Philippi and Thessalonica) does Paul use the more gracious word. (1 Thess. 4:1, where both words are linked together; 1 Thess. 5:12; 2 Thess. 2:1).

Another Scripture that may have come to Paul at this time is Prov. 18:19. "A brother offended is harder to be won than a fenced city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle"; cold, straight, unbending; bedded in cold, hard stone; and they cannot come together. But, bring heat enough and soon they can be close to each other. That, I think, is partly why there was such burning love in Verse 1. Paul well knew the danger and the difficulty: and so he turns to his "true yoke-fellow", and entreats his help in this most difficult and delicate matter. For sisters are as hard to win as brothers. I have little doubt that the "true yoke-fellow" was Epaphroditus. Very likely he was writing the letter at Paul's dictation, just as Tertius wrote the letter to the Romans from Paul's dictation (Rom. 16:22). You remember how in that letter Tertius interrupted the dictation to send a little message of his own. My own thought is that similarly Paul broke off his dictation to say to Epaphroditus, "Yes, I entreat even thee, true Yoke-fellow, help them, (these women) who struggled along with me in the Gospel". Undoubtedly Paul and Epaphroditus had talked this whole matter over, and Paul may already have suggested to Epaphroditus that he help them in their difficulties. Quite likely, Epaphroditus was alarmed at such a prospect, and this would give us to understand the apostle's word, "Yes!" — "Yes! Epaphroditus, you help them!" "Oh, not I!" perhaps he replied: "Yes! I entreat even thee, true yoke-fellow! Take hold along with them; for they struggled along with me in the Gospel". And Epaphroditus wrote it down, even though perhaps he was not meant to, and how glad we are he did! The word translated help is the same word used when Simon Peter got that wonderful catch of fish in Luke 5: they beckoned to their partners to take hold along with them to bring in the fish. Here in Phil. 4:3 it is in the "Middle Voice", which intimates doing something for oneself: so may suggest that Euodia and Syntyche were, at least, wanting to get the old strife settled.

And remember Paul told them to "mind the same thing in the Lord." How sad and disgraceful when those "in the Lord" quarrel. Both in Him; and yet quarrelling! In Verse 1 of this chapter the Apostle wrote: "Stand fast in the Lord."

Now it is, "Mind the same thing in the Lord," and in verse 4 we read: "Rejoice in the Lord." Does this not tell us that whatever we do, we are to do it 'in the Lord.' And if we did but bear this in mind: — have it in our hearts: how careful it would make us in all our actions!

The apostle urges help for these sisters, for he recalls in the days gone by how they "struggled along with me in the Gospel." There is no suggestion that they preached: there is no reference to public service here. There is a great difference between preaching the Gospel, and sharing the contentions of the Gospel. Many a man has laboured diligently in the Gospel, but never preached in his life; and there might be men and women who were striving every day in the Gospel as diligently, or more so, even, than those who preached it every day.

There is beautiful choice in the language of the Holy Spirit: and we do well to give careful heed to it. We all ought to know that the New Testament puts the Christian woman in the place of exceeding blessedness, removing every thought that would give her an inferior place in Christ, but it puts her also at the same time in the back ground, wherever it is a case of public action. Here officially, so to speak, the man is called to be uncovered, the woman to be veiled. She is thus as it were put behind the man, whereas, when you speak of our privileges in Christ, there is neither male nor female. It is important to see where there is no difference and where there is. The First Epistle to Corinthians is most plain that the head of the woman is the man, so the man is the glory of the woman. We find there the administrative difference between the man and the woman. When you come to the heavenly privileges we have in Christ, all these distinctions disappear. There is no public action that I know in the world or in the Church allotted to the Christian woman. As to private dealing with souls, the case is different. In their father's house, the four daughters of Philip may have prophesied. They were evidently highly gifted women; for it is not said of them that they laboured in the gospel, but that they prophesied — one of the highest forms of gift from Christ. At the same time the Holy Spirit, who tells us that a woman might and did prophesy as a fact, instructs us that it is forbidden to a woman to speak in the Church where prophesying properly had its course. But there a woman was forbidden to speak, not even allowed to ask a question, much less to give an answer. Yet as to the private scene, at home, even with an Apollos, a woman might fitly act: that is, if she acted with and under her husband. Priscilla might be of more spiritual weight than Aquila; but this very thing would lead her to be most careful to take an unobtrusive lowly place. (Acts 18:24-26).

There is no suggestion that Euodia and Syntyche had ever put themselves forward in an unseemly public sort; but they had shared the early trials of Gospel with Paul. At Corinth, on the contrary, the women seem to have assumed much, and the apostle manifests his sense of it by the reproachful demand, if the Word of God came out from them, or if came to them only. (1 Cor. 14:36). No doubt they reasoned that, if women have gifts, why should they not exercise them, and exercise them in all places? But He who gives gifts is alone entitled to say when, how, and by whom they are to be exercised. At Philippi where there was an obedient spirit, there might have been too much reluctance to meddle with these otherwise estimable women, who were estranged from each other. So the Apostle asks Epaphroditus to help them: "Help them who are such as contended with me in the gospel." He gives them special praise. They strove with him in the work. He joins himself with these good women whom Epaphroditus seems to have been afraid to try and help. He joins them also with Clement and other fellow-labourers: not named: but whose names are recorded above in the Book of Life. And so he praises and encourages the fellowship in the service of the gospel not only with faithful men, but with women whose faithfulness was not forgotten because there were painful hindrances just now.*

{*The last three paragraphs are based on Mr. W. Kelly's book 'Lectures on Philippians.'}

Perhaps we should not leave this verse without a few words about 'The Book of Life.' You recall Moses asked the Lord to blot him out of His book, if only the Lord would spare Israel: but the Lord would not blot Moses out of His book, instead He found a way to spare His people. (Ex. 32:32).

In Luke 10 the Seventy returned to our Lord with joy, saying, "Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through Thy Name." But the Lord told them not to rejoice in this; "but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven." (Luke 10:20). In Heb. 12:23 we read of the "church of the First-born, which are written in heaven." In Rev. 3:5 the Lord promises the overcomer in the church in Sardis, the church that had a name to live but was dead, — He promises the overcomer, "I will not blot out his name out of the Book of Life." Some have had difficulty over this verse, thinking that it tells us that we can be saved, and afterwards lost: that our names can be written in the Book of Life, and then blotted out. I think if we remember that this church had a name to live, but were dead, that all is plain. They claimed they had Eternal Life, but they had not: they claimed their names were in the book of life; but they were not there rightfully. It has been compared to a voting register. A list of the names of all those who claim to have a right to vote is published: but when these claims are examined, it is proved that some had no such right, and their names are crossed out. There is not a suggestion that one who truly has eternal life, will ever have his name crossed out of the Book of Life.

In Rev. 13:8 we read that "all that dwell on the earth" (what a contrast to those whose citizenship is in heaven) "shall do homage to the beast, (every one) whose name had not been written from the founding of the world in the book of life of the slain Lamb." These dear saints in Philippi were ones whose names were in the Book of Life. We get a very similar statement in Rev. 17:8.

In Revelation 20:11 we see the Great White Throne, and Him that sat on it and the dead small and great must come and be judged by Him. Books were opened; and another book was opened which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged out of the things written in the books according to their works. And if any one was not found written in the Book of Life, he was cast into the lake of fire. Reader, is your name in the Book of Life?

In Revelation 21 we read of the holy city, new Jerusalem; and there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's Book of Life. Well may we rejoice, as the Lord told the Seventy, if our names are written in heaven: written I doubt not, in the Lamb's Book of Life! (Luke 10:20).

Chapter 39


"Rejoice in the Lord away: (and) again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord (is) at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

"Rejoice in (the) Lord always: again I will say, Rejoice! Let your yieldingness (or, gentleness) be-known unto-all men. The Lord (is) near. Be-anxious-about nothing; but in everything, by-your prayer and by-your supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be-made-known unto God, then the peace of-God, the (peace) surpassing every mind (of man), shall-keep-guard-over your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus."

Philippians 4:4-7

"Rejoice in the Lord always: again I will say, Rejoice!" (Phil. 4:4)

Our last meditation ended with thoughts of The Book of Life, and we noticed that our Lord told His disciples to rejoice (not that the devils were subject to them, but) that their names were written in heaven. This seems to link our last meditation with the Scripture before us now. Luke, who was so much with Paul, tells us this saying of our Lord, and it is very probable that he told it also to Paul: "Rejoice, … your names are written in heaven." Paul responds: Your "names are in the Book of Life, Rejoice!" What an excellent reason, and what a sure ground, for joy! How many would give all they possess to know for certain that their names are in the Book of Life. And we may know this for certain: each one of us may know this: "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life." (1 John 5:13). Well may we Rejoice in the Lord alway!

Is it a new truth that the Apostle Paul teaches us, when he tells us to rejoice in the Lord? No, again and again do we hear these words in the Old Testament. Hannah could sing: "My heart rejoiceth in the Lord." (1 Sam. 2:1). And on through the Psalms and the Prophets we hear this same refrain, over and over again.*

{* Ps. 33:1; 97:12; Isa. 41:16; 61:10. But here it is 'I will greatly rejoice in the Lord.' Joel 2:23; Hab. 3:18; & Zech 10:7; besides the repeated call to rejoice in His Salvation, in His Name, in His Mercy, in The Holy One of Israel: and others.}

It is in the Old Testament we read: "The joy of the Lord is your strength." And have we less reason to 'rejoice in the Lord' than the saints in Old Testament days? We who have seen the very image of the good things, and not the 'shadows' only? Some of you will have read an old book that begins by telling us of those who say: "You Christians seem to have a religion that makes you miserable. You are like a man with a headache. He does not want to get rid of his head, but it hurts him to keep it. You cannot expect outsiders to seek very earnestly for anything so uncomfortable." Shame on us! Shame, that such a thing can be said: and, I grieve to say, said with some truth of those who should rejoice in the Lord alway: those who should be the happiest people in the world. But, perhaps, you say: You do not know all the trouble and sorrow I have, or you would not expect me to rejoice. They tell us that a better translation of our verse reads this way: "Rejoice in the Lord on all occasions." And I suppose this takes in all our troubles and sorrows. Our beloved Lord was 'The Man of Sorrows', and yet He tells us of 'My joy.' And His servant could write: "As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing." (2 Cor. 6:10). The Scriptures are clear that our Joy is one that is not affected by adversity: we rejoice always, on all occasions, in dark days, as well as bright:
"Although the fig tree shall not blossom,
 Neither shall fruit be in the vines;
 The labour of the olive shall fail,
 And the fields shall yield no meat;
 The flock shall be cut off from the fold,
 And there shall be no herd in the stalls:
    Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will joy in the God of my salvation.
    Jehovah, the Lord, is my strength,
    And He maketh my feet like hinds' feet,
    And He will make me to walk upon mine high places.
        To the Chief Singer on my stringed instruments."
            (Hab. 3:17-19: See New Translation)

When first we were married, life was full of joy: 'as well expect the soaring lark to keep silent, as expect the joyous saint not to sing God's praise,' so there was not a day passed that we did not have singing in our little home: but the time came when the cares of this world crowded out the songs of Heaven, yet, I grieve to say, we hardly noticed it. For a wedding present a beloved friend had given us a beautiful canary in a brass cage, and its songs were a constant delight: but one day they stopped, and how we missed them: then our eyes were opened to the fact that our own songs had stopped also: and what was our shame, when our neighbours opposite remarked how they missed the singing they had grown to love.

It is told of Mr. Hyde of India that one day he was travelling to a distant village with a beloved Punjabi evangelist and his two little children. The men were speaking sadly about the village, — how long the Gospel had been preached there, and how little interest the people showed. The children had no such sad thoughts: they were so happy that they sang, and went on singing Psalms and Hymns one after another, till the two men were constrained to join in, and they were so carried away with the spirit of praise that they continued singing till they reached the village. Imagine their amazement when they found the people full of interest, and eager to confess Christ and follow Him, and over a dozen showed such a living faith, that they were baptized before they left. This was the first Gospel triumph in that village, heralded and brought about by the spirit of praise from the children.

In another village they were so discouraged, they decided to leave early next morning, but that night someone suggested they should all go to the village and sing the Gospel in it. This they did, and sang on and on, till after midnight. Next morning they were preparing to leave, when a young man came running from the village, to beg them not to go, for not one, he told them, had gone to work that morning, but were even then considering if they should not at once decide for Christ. They waited, and found some fifteen men, mostly heads of families, quite ready to be baptized. The young man who had brought the message said to Mr. Hyde: This is the result of your singing last night. You sang —
  "Lift up your heads, O ye gates,
   And let the King of Glory enter in!"
Has He not entered in this morning?

Mr. Hyde used to say that when he noticed few souls being led to Christ he always found it was due to his lack of a spirit of praise. He would then confess his sin, ask pardon, and take the Garment of Praise for the spirit of heaviness. His experience then invariably was that Christ would again draw souls to Himself through him. No fisher can possibly throw his line lightly when he is dull and sad. It is the joyous one who generally wins souls to Christ.*

{*Based on "Praying Hyde".}

We must remember that joy is the second of the fruit of the Spirit: "Love, Joy, Peace". Also, Joy is a legacy, like Peace, that our Saviour left us before He returned to Glory: "These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full". (John 15:11). He was leaving them: but His joy would remain in them. And again, ponder our Lord's most wondrous prayer: "And now come I to Thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have My joy fulfilled in themselves". (John 17:13).

Let us not forget that it is "in the Lord" we are to rejoice. Some rejoice in their homes, in their families, in their wealth, in their learning: but such joys all fade: but when we rejoice in the Lord we have a joy that no man taketh from us. True, sin may rob us of it: and we may have to pray "Restore unto me the joy of Thy Salvation". (Not, you will note, "Restore unto me Thy Salvation!"). But our Epistle does not touch on this subject: and neither shall we. It may be found in the First Epistle of John. Our Epistle is too full of its theme of joy. Eleven times, I have counted "Rejoice", and five times "joy", in this little Epistle. Here is the key-note of the normal Christian life.

But though Philippians does not suggest the loss of this priceless gift of Joy: it does speak of those things that would rob us of it. The sad quarrel between Euodia and Syntyche had surely taken away their joy. Why could they not give in to each other? Now the Apostle writes:

"Let your yieldingness (or, gentleness) be known unto all men. The Lord (is) near." (Phil. 4:5).

The word translated "yieldingness" or "gentleness" is epieikeia, and is another of those Greek words almost impossible to translate. Recently there has been a very useful little book published, intended for missionaries: but good for us all: it is called, "Have We No Rights?" I fancy that the fair authoress of this little book had been having special lessons from the Lord Himself in epieikeia. One who has epieikeia will not insist on his rights, even though they truly are his rights: but he will yield. It has been translated "sweet-reasonableness". But that only tells part.

It is one of the special characteristics of our beloved Lord Himself, combined with meekness. (2 Cor. 10:1). It is one of the characteristics of the wisdom that is from above. (James 3:17). An "overseer" should have epieikeia (1 Tim. 3:3). And I gather from Titus 3:2, we all need it.

Epieikeia would do away with that hardness that we are apt to call faithfulness, for we can be faithful, without being hard. I think it was epieikeia made Boaz welcome Ruth: and what a reward he had. I think it was epieikeia let David eat the shewbread; and let our Lord heal on the Sabbath day. Peter needed a great deal of epieikeia to forgive his brother, not seven times, but seventy-times-seven. I suppose that epieikeia was exactly what Euodia and Syntyche needed: and I am inclined to think it is what most of us need very badly indeed. Another has said: "Justice is human, but epieikeia is divine" (W. Barclay). And we are to let our epieikeia, - our yieldingness, — our willingness-to-give-way, be known unto all men.

In the next verse we are told to let our requests be made known unto God. Here is one of those instances of the exquisite beauty of the Word of God. The Greek words for known, in these two verses (5 & 6) are different. In Verse 5, "be known" tells of knowledge "by observation and experience". My epieikeia is to be known to all men, — not by going round and telling them about it, but because they observe how I act towards others; and they experience how I act towards themselves, and in this way we let our epieikeia be known. But our requests are made known unto God by telling Him our needs in prayer and supplication.

Then follows the statement that will give such a powerful motive to act on this exhortation: "The Lord (is) near". This may mean (as far as the grammar goes) that the Lord is near to us: as He promised in Matthew 28: "Lo, I am with you alway," and in Psalm 34:18: "The Lord is nigh unto them that are broken of heart". Or it may mean that the coming of the Lord is near, when we shall be forever with the Lord.

You recall the Apostle had just written, "Our citizenship is in heaven, from whence also we eagerly await the Saviour". There is a child near here whose mother is in hospital: as she waked this morning, she murmured: "I dreamt Mummie came home today!" That was Paul's attitude: by day and by night, he was "eagerly awaiting" the Saviour, the One he loved so dearly. "Maranatha", "The Lord Cometh", seems to have been a sort of watchword with the disciples of old. In James 5:7 we read: "Be ye also patient … for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh". These are almost the same words as in our verse in Philippians, and here there is no question. So, personally, I have not a doubt that the Lord's coming is the Apostle's thought: but the Greek words may mean either, and both are true, so may we not appropriate both for ourselves? He is near us: and just how near that "shout" may be, who may say? "PERHAPS TODAY" is a motto we all might have on our walls. If we are momentarily expecting that call to meet our Lord in the air, we will not be troubling very much about our "rights" down here. How many quarrels would that end!

"The Lord is near. Be anxious about nothing; but in every thing, by-your-prayer and by-your-supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known before God, then the peace of God, the (peace) surpassing every mind (of man), shall-keep-guard-over your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 4:7).

We must repeat the words 'The Lord is near,' for they are needed as a motive not to be anxious, just as much as they are needed for a motive not to stand up for our rights, but let our yieldingness be made known to all men. The word translated 'Be anxious,' just above, is translated 'Be careful' in our beloved Authorized Version: and that would be a better translation, were it not that 'Be careful' has come to have a different meaning. My wife used to worry a great deal about the meals, so I made her the Text: "I would have you without carefulness"; and it always hung over our kitchen door. There was a Christian Corporal often visited us in Shanghai, and his place at table was just opposite the kitchen door. We used to see him gazing at this Text, but thought nothing of it. One evening, with a voice of triumph, he remarked: "I understand it at last! I could not imagine why you had that Text over the kitchen door, but now I know. You did not want the Amah (the Chinese woman who helped in the house) to be worried when she broke the dishes, so you told her she need not be careful." I need hardly say, that was not the meaning.

If we could translate this verse: "Do not let your hearts be filled with care," I think it would give the meaning better. The word translated 'Be careful' comes from the word for care as we see it in 1 Peter 5:7: "Casting all your care upon Him," or, "The care of this world" in Matt. 13:22, that chokes the Word. God's way to get rid of this care that so often saps our very life, is to cast it all on Him. In Heb. 10:35 we are told: "Cast not away therefore your confidence." But, as another has put it, too often we
'Cast away our confidence;
But carry all our care.'

And the way to cast all our care upon Him, so that we are anxious for nothing, is told us in this lovely verse in Philippians: "In every thing, by your prayer and by your supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God". Sometimes the load of care seems too heavy to cast it anywhere. Then the Lord invites us to "roll thy way upon the Lord" (Ps. 37:5: Margin). When we were children in Canada, in the winter, we would make great snowballs; and when they got too heavy to lift, we still could roll them. So roll that great load of care on Him, "because it is a matter of care to Him, concerning you," as the Greek so sweetly puts it. And in the Greek Testament two different words are used here for care. The one is "anxious, harassing care:" the other is God's loving "providential care" over us.*

{*But we should note that the word meaning anxious care, can have a good meaning, as well as an evil: for instance we see it in Phil. 2:20, where Timothy "naturally cares" for the state of the Philippian saints. In 1 Cor. 12:25 the members of the body should have the same care one for another: and Paul's heaviest burden was the care of all the churches (2 Cor. 11:28).}

We are not to be anxious about "one thing," as it is literally, but in "every thing" we are to let our requests be made known unto God: and you do this "by your prayer and by your supplication with thanksgiving." True, God knows all before we make them known: but He loves to have us come and tell Him. Actually it does not say "your prayer and your supplication," but "the prayer and the supplication". You may remember we have suggested that the Greek word "the" is like a finger pointing: and here we have two fingers, pointing to two different words. It is as though the Apostle was thinking: "by the prayer and by the supplication, which of course you will make". You recall how sometimes only one article (the) is used with two words, to link them closely together. Here we see just the opposite, twice the article is used, where we cannot use it at all, to point out the two separate acts when we come to God with our anxious, harassing cares. So we have substituted your for the "the" that we cannot use. And let us remember "every thing" means just what the word says: every single thing: the little things, as well as the big things: the things we are ashamed to bring to our Lord: in not one of these we are to be anxious: for every one is to be spread out before Him.

There are, I think, in the Greek New Testament (if we count "thanksgiving") seven different words for prayer: and we have four of them in our present verse. The first, translated "prayer", tells us of prayer in general, — of any address to God. The second, "supplication" tells of prayer for particular needs or benefits. The first is only used of prayer to God: the second may also be used towards our fellow-men. These two words are found together again in Eph. 6:18 and 1 Tim. 2:1; 5:5. The first may include worship, as we come to God in prayer; whereas the second is definitely what we want from God. And, let us not forget, for Paul never forgot, that all is to be with "thanksgiving". "Regarded as one manner of prayer, it (thanksgiving) expresses what ought never to be absent from any of our devotions (Phil. 4:6; Eph. 5:20; 1 Thess. 5:18; 1 Tim. 2:1); namely, the grateful acknowledgement of past mercies, as distinguished from the earnest seeking of future. As such it may, and will, subsist in heaven (Rev. 4:9; 7:12); will indeed be larger, deeper, fuller there than here: for only there will the redeemed know how much they owe to their Lord; and this it will do, while all other forms of prayer, in the very nature of things, will have ceased in the entire possession and present fruition of the things prayed for." (Trench: Synonyms, No. 51). And let us not forget, the Word commands: "In every thing give thanks." (1 Thess. 5:18).

A bright example of obedience to this command happened years ago in Shanghai. A Christian sailor retired from the British navy, and settled in that city with his wife and little boy. He got a job with the Shanghai Municipal Council, but soon developed an incurable disease, which he knew must before long end his ability to provide for his little family. One month-end he brought home his pay, and turned it all over to his wife. That afternoon a kind friend sent over her carriage to bring the wife and child to have tea with her. On her return, the poor wife discovered that her purse, with the whole month's wages was missing. She quickly walked back to her friend's house, looking everywhere: but no trace could be found of the lost purse.

As her husband came in at the door that evening, she rushed to him, and sobbed out, "I've lost my purse, with all your month's pay! whatever shall we do?" The husband quietly replied, "The Scripture says in every thing give thanks, so we'll go into the sitting room and kneel down and thank the Lord". "You may", she replied, "but I can't". So the husband went in alone, and knelt and gave thanks. A few days later, the dear wife had learned this hard lesson, and came to her husband saying: "My dear, if you'll come into the sitting room again, I'll kneel with you and give thanks also". And they did.

Need I add, the Lord did not forsake them, either then, or a little later when he was compelled to give up his work? And the Peace of God kept guard over their hearts, even through that dark, sad time.

The fourth word is translated requests. It is also found in 1 John 5:15: "Whatsoever we request, we know that we have the requests which we have requested of Him". In any prayer there may be a number of requests: for example, in what we call "The Lord's Prayer", there are generally reckoned seven requests. And so we spread all our cares and needs, and mercies already granted, every one, out before the Lord, in all simplicity, as a tiny child to its Father.

And the result?

"Then the peace of God, the (peace) surpassing every mind* (of man), shall-keep-guard-over your hearts and your thoughts* in Christ Jesus."

{*The Authorized Version has 'understanding' where we have 'mind', and has 'mind' where we have 'thoughts.' The Greek word for the first of these two is nous. Vaughan says: "About the usage of the word nous there can be no question. It is always mind, not exercise of mind." Cremer says it is "The organ of mental perception and apprehension … the reflective consciousness, … the faculty of the understanding." This is a different word to the one translated "to be minded," etc., which occurs, I think, ten times in this Epistle: but nous only this once. The second word is noemata, and comes from nous. Vaughan says: It is "thoughts: not minds (Authorized Version), but operations of mind. The whole thought is confused by the double mistranslation — (1) all understanding for every mind, and then (2) minds for thoughts."}

We must remember that there is a vast difference between the "peace of God", and "peace with God". Romans 5:1 tells us: "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God". We were lost sinners, and enemies in our mind by wicked works: how could peace with God be made? If I believe on Christ and what He has done, then I can boldly say that for Christ's sake, even my sins are forgiven: therefore I can add: "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." The value is not in the faith, but in our Lord Jesus Christ. We cannot get the blessing without believing, but it is an answer to the worth of Christ in God's sight.

But beside this settled peace which we have through the work of Christ, there is "the peace of God, which has nothing to do with the forgiveness of our sins: though that is in one sense the foundation of all our blessing: but this, "the peace of God", is peace amidst the circumstances through which we pass day by day: and it is a peace "surpassing every mind of man". The Apostle was in prison, bound with a chain to a Roman soldier: yet he was filled with both joy and peace. And, as joy is the second, peace is the third fruit of the Spirit: and like joy it is a legacy left by our beloved Lord, before He returned to His Home in Glory: "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you." (John 14:27).

It is, in very truth, a peace that surpasses every mind of man: mind, notice, not knowledge: for "The peace of God" lies in a higher sphere than intellect: a truth we do well to remember today.

This "Peace of God" stands as a sacred Sentinel to keep guard over our hearts and our thoughts. We may see the meaning of the word translated "keep guard" from 2 Cor. 11:32: "In Damascus the governor … was guarding the city … to take me". This "Sentinel" will guard from foes within and without. It will guard from those evil thoughts that so readily arise within, hated and unbidden: thoughts which, Thank God, He is able to bring into captivity to the obedience of Christ. (2 Cor. 10:5). He guards also from all the filth of this age, that attacks both "eye-gate" and "ear-gate", and can give us to pass through all undefiled. But let me not suppose that if I willingly open these gates to the enemy: willingly turn from my Bible to television, or the like, that I can expect my Heavenly Guard to fight for me then. But He is ever there ready to defend our hearts and thoughts: not only from the filth, but also from the cares of which we have just spoken. In Col. 3:15 (New Trans.) we read: "Let the peace of Christ preside (literally, "act as umpire"), or, direct, rule, control, in your hearts." So we have The Peace of God to guard, and The Peace of Christ to rule, in our hearts. How safe we are, and what peace we have, if we will but let these Heavenly Guests have control!

And let us not forget that all is "in Christ Jesus". Christ Jesus is my Rock and my Fortress (Ps. 31:2-3) within which the Peace of God keeps guard over hearts and thoughts. So the picture is complete: we have the Fortress and we have the Garrison that guards it. Both are Divine. What perfect safety, and what perfect peace, is there for every believer! In 1 Peter 1:5 we "are kept guarded by the power of God, through faith for salvation." (J.N.D.) "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee". Therefore, my Beloved, "Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord JEHOVAH is the Rock of Ages." (Isaiah 26:3 & 4; Margin).

And before we leave this lovely passage of Scripture, let us notice how in Verse 1, we have LOVE; in Verse 4 we have JOY; and now in Verse 7 we have PEACE: — LOVE, JOY, PEACE: the first three of the nine fruit of the Spirit. May we know more and more of the infinite fulness of each one of these!

"Though vine nor fig tree neither
 Their wonted fruit should bear:
 Though all the field should wither,
 Nor flocks nor herds be there:
  Yet God the same abiding,
 His praise shall tune my voice:
 For while in Him confiding
 I cannot but rejoice."   (Cowper)

Chapter 40

Think! … Do!
"Finally, brethren,
    whatsoever things are true,
    whatsoever things (are) honest,
        (or, venerable: margin)
    whatsoever things (are) just,
    whatsoever things (are) pure,
    whatsoever things (are) lovely,
    whatsoever things (are) of good report;
    if (there be) any virtue,
    and if (there be) any praise,
think on these things.
Those things,
    which ye have both learned,
    and received,
    and heard,
    and seen in me,
and the God of peace shall be with you.

"(As for) that-which-remains (to be said), Brothers,
    Whatsoever-(things) are true,
    Whatsoever noble,
    Whatsoever just,
    Whatsoever pure,
    Whatsoever loveable,
    Whatsoever sweet-to-speak-of;
    If (there be) any virtue,
    And if any praise,
On these-(things) meditate.
What-(things) ye both learned,
    And received,
    And heard,
    And saw in me,
These-(things) practise;
And the God of-Peace shall-be with you."
(Philippians 4:8-9)

This verse begins in exactly the same way as the first verse of the third chapter: "(As for) that which remains (to be said"), or "For the rest". It may indicate that the letter is drawing to a close: and indeed this is so: for the portion we hope to ponder in this chapter is all that remains to be said before the Apostle turns to the final object of writing: to acknowledge the gift sent by the saints in Philippi.

In our last Chapter we thought of "The Peace of God," as the Divine Sentinel to keep guard over our "hearts and thoughts"; to repel foes from within and without. When we were children we used to play a sort of game to see if we could stop thinking, and just leave our mind a blank: but we never succeeded. The Spirit of God knows well how these minds of ours are always active: always thinking: our Divine Sentinel is there to keep away those hateful, evil thoughts: but we need something more than that: we need the positive side as well as the negative. If our mind is always busy with thoughts, and evil thoughts are excluded, what then?

That is what we have before us now in Verse 8. That is what "remains to be said" with regard to our hearts and our thoughts. Now the Spirit of God, by the Apostle, presents to us those things which should occupy us instead of the old bad thoughts. We will see that the God of Peace Himself promises to be with us if we give heed to verses 8 and 9; and here we see the furnishings for the home He is to occupy.

Before we meditate on the eight new and wondrous subjects that are now to fill our hearts and thoughts, I think we must look for a moment at the word near the end of our verse, translated "think on these things". It is not the ordinary word for "think" and has nothing to do with the word translated "thoughts" in verse 7. It primarily means to calculate or reckon. It is a very favourite word of Paul's, especially in Romans. Perhaps the best example of its use as "think", is in 1 Cor. 13:5: "Love thinketh no evil". Literally that is, "Love does not reckon up the evil". Someone we love does us a wrong; but we do not brood over it, or reckon up the details of it. Love does not "think" of the evil, but rather seeks to make excuses for it. That is a negative example, but I do not recall a positive. We had it once before in this Epistle: "I count not myself to have attained." (Phil. 3:13). It does also have the meaning of consider, or meditate, especially from the view of "calculating".

Now let us seek with the Lord's help to meditate, consider, calculate, these wondrous eight subjects that are to fill our hearts and thoughts. The more deeply we ponder them, I believe, the more we will realize how far short we come in our likeness to them. And that may, — I hope, will — turn our eyes to the only One who does fully measure up to these qualities. And if, as we look at them, "we see Jesus", our meditation will not be wasted.

The first is: "Whatsoever-(things are) true." Does not this turn our eyes at once to the only One of Whom it can be truly said: "He that is true". (Rev. 3:7). He is absolutely true: in Him is no variableness or shadow of turning. We can depend on Him to the uttermost and He will never fail us, will never let us down. What comfort, what rest, does such a Saviour, such a Friend, mean to us! He Himself says: "I am the … truth". If you will take a good concordance and look up the words "true", "truth", etc., you may be surprised to find that the Apostle John is the writer who loves these words best. We are apt to think of John as the Apostle of Love: and how he delights to use this word also: but you will find he speaks of things that are true, not far short of a hundred times. He would not have Love at the expense of Truth. Listen, for example, to these little bits from his letters: "I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth"; again, "I have no greater joy than these things that I hear of my children walking in the truth". (2 John 4; 3 John 4 N.T.). And so we may see that whatsoever things are true, may have a very wide application; not only to speak truth: or even act in a true and upright manner, that will deceive no one: but it carries us on to the wondrous Truth of God that He reveals to us in His word. And, "Thy Word is truth". (John 17:17). The Word says of us: "As he thinketh in his heart, so is he". (Prov. 23:7). If a man constantly thinks of something, the time will come when he cannot stop thinking of it: and woe be it to him, if these thoughts are evil and impure and false.

Our thoughts form us; and it is out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. And let us not forget that our thoughts are formed by what we read, and look at, and hear. How much about us is superficial, or false. Our newspapers, the radio, the magazines about the house: do these help us to meditate on whatsoever things are true? Do we realize what a terrific influence these things have on our children, as well as on ourselves? And how much of all this is not true, but utterly false, as we very well know. Little wonder the Spirit of God exhorts us to think on, to meditate on, to calculate, whatsoever things are true.

The Word here tells us to calculate. Let us calculate the awful loss to one who does not heed this admonition. It may mean the loss of a soul: if not your own soul, it may be the soul of one you love even better than yourself. It has been well said:
"Light obeyed increaseth Light.
 Light refused, but bringeth night.
 Who shall give us power to choose,
 If the love of Light we lose?"

Notice well, "Whatsoever things are true", comes first in our list of those things on which we are to meditate. It also has the first place in the Armour of God: "Having your loins girt about with truth." (Eph. 6:14). May God help us, like Moses of old, to learn to refuse, and to choose! To refuse the false, and to choose the true!

* * * * *

Then comes "semnos". It is another of those Greek words almost impossible to translate. Of it, and the corresponding noun, Dr. Barclay writes: "There are no more majestic words in the whole Greek language". It carries with it the meaning of grave, stately, dignified; yet it is not sad, for you will recall how only a few lines before the Apostle tells us to Rejoice. It tells of kingliness and royalty; it is a word with the majesty of Deity about it. One translates it: "The dignity of holiness". Archbishop Trench writes: "The semnos has a grace and dignity not lent him from earth; but which he owes to that higher citizenship which is also his." It tells of those things that have to do with the heavenly world. I suppose Moses was a semnos man, especially when he came down from the mount, and his face shone. I think Enoch, Elijah and Elisha were semnos men.

Beloved, does not this word challenge your heart? Do you know today a single truly semnos man, except the Man Christ Jesus? And yet, the deacons and their wives, and also the aged men were all to be semnos. (1 Tim. 3:8, 11; Titus 2:2). And we are to pray for kings, so that we all may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all piety and semoteti (1 Tim. 2:2). The overseers especially are to have this quality; and Titus was to show the young men an example of it, in his own life (1 Tim. 3:4 & Titus 2:7). So we see that old and young, men and women, all are to show forth a semnos life. Those are the only places these words are found in the New Testament, except our verse in Phil. 4:8: and notice they all occur in 1 Tim. and Titus. As we ponder such a word as this, we are the more thankful that the Apostle begins this exhortation with that sweet word: "Brothers!" It is as though he would encourage our fainting hearts, that might feel such a word is so utterly beyond us.

And yet we are "kings and priests unto God and His Father", (Rev. 1:6) and so is it unreasonable to exhort us to ponder the kingliness and holiness that should mark us out? I know well there is but One of whom it can be said:
 "'Tis a pilgrim, strange and kingly,
    Never such was seen before".
There is but One who is "Fairer than the children of men", and He is the One of whom it is said: "Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever". And of Him it is written: "God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows" (Psalm 45). And yet, "we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord". (2 Cor. 3:18). Thus it is we also can become, in some small measure, semnos men and women. So, as we meditate on whatsoever is semnos, we will find it takes us straight to our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Every step of His path through this world, as we see Him in the four Gospels, shows forth the only truly semnos Man.

* * * * *

The third subject for our meditation is "whatsoever-(things are) just." The word may be either righteous or just. Notice that "The Holy One and the Just" needs no other name to tell who is meant: for there is but one (Acts 3:14). More striking still, it was needless for Stephen to tell his enemies who "the Just One" was: for their own consciences told them (Acts 7:52). And Saul of Tarsus had learned that Name from Ananias, at the time of his conversion (Acts 22:14); if he had not already learned it from Stephen. With men righteousness may repel rather than attract. Scarcely for a righteous man will one die, though peradventure for a good man, some would even dare to die: but with our Lord it is different. With Him "righteousness and peace have kissed each other" (Ps. 85:10); and it is because He is righteous that we know there is no judgment for us, since He has born it all, and righteousness will not demand payment of the debt twice over.

We meditated recently on epieikeia, — gentleness, yieldingness: and we saw that it was one of the special marks of our Lord. Perhaps that is partly why His righteousness attracts, rather than repels. And you recall we are to let our epieikeia be known unto all men. But our justice must also be known: not hard, cruel justice, that demands the last cent: but justice that is always fair, and always "plays the game". I recall a Chinese Customs Officer in China passing the baggage of a Christian without opening it, "Because", he explained to the others who had to open theirs, "a Christian would not do anything that was not right". I wonder if we all would measure up to the standard set by that Chinese man, who may not have been a Christian himself? But most assuredly we should. Whether it is the customs, whether it is the postage on a letter, whether it is keeping the rules of the road when driving: in all these things let us be scrupulously just. It has distressed me very much to see a Christian send a letter in an unsealed envelope, at perhaps half the proper price: or make a false declaration on a Customs form, to save duty to the friend receiving the parcel. Were we habitually meditating on "whatsoever things are just" we would not do such things. And you young people who may read these lines, let me beseech you, if you are followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, to be absolutely honest and fair in all you do: your school work, your games, or whatever it is. I remember an old missionary in inland China whom the shop-keepers used to call, "Jesus". They knew no better. But what a challenge to that man to behave in a way that would bring honour, and not shame, on that worthy Name he bore! And you bear that same Name, if you are a Christian: for you "have put on Christ" (Gal. 3:27). Seek by His grace to bring honour on Christ's Name.

* * * * *

"Whatsoever-(things are) pure."

Our school motto was: "Beati Mundo Corde:" the Latin for, "Blessed are the pure in heart." It would be hard to find a more suitable, or a more beautiful, motto for a boys' school. How did we measure up to it, bearing in mind that purity begins with our thoughts? How do we today measure up to it, when we think of it in this way? As we look around on all the filth about us in this filthy world, through which we must pass, we might be utterly discouraged, and say that God had set before us an impossible standard, that He does not expect us to meet. Let not such a thought find lodgement with us.

In the days of old there were various creatures which the people of Israel might not eat, for they were unclean: there were others that were clean. There were two marks by which a clean fish was known: it must have both fins and scales. The fins let it swim against the stream. There is a spot on the Columbia River where you may stand and watch the great fish leap up rapids, or small falls, several feet high. Similarly God has provided a power whereby you and I may "swim against the stream." But there are times when a fish must swim through filthy water: and to protect it, God has given it scales: which I suppose are 'shut up together as with a close seal. One is so near another, that no air can come between them. They are joined one to another, they stick together that they cannot be sundered.' (Job 41:15-17). And, fitted with this armour, the fish can pass in safety through the filth. So God has provided a way for His Own to pass unscathed through all the filth around us: as well as the power to go against the stream.

It is perfectly true that we still have the old nature within us that loves sin. The natural heart of the believer is deceitful above all things, and incurable. (Jer. 17:9; New Trans.). It is when we learn that our hearts, by nature, are like a rotten egg, so bad they cannot be worse, and so bad they can never be made better, that we realize the truth of the word: 'Ye must be born again.' It is then we will give up our efforts to improve, and cast ourselves wholly on the Lord. It is of the believer it is written: "The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh." (Gal. 5:17). But notice well the correct ending of that verse: "So that ye might not do the things that ye would," not, — "that ye cannot." Thank God, we have the Spirit to oppose the flesh; and are not called to fight the battle in our own strength. The old poem says truly:
"What is the foulest thing on earth?
  Bethink thee now, and tell!
  It is a soul by sin defiled,
  'Tis only fit for hell."
And as face answers to face in water, so does the heart of man to man. What a hopeless outlook it seems to be! And yet the same old hymn continues, and does so truly:
"And what's the purest thing on earth?
  Come, tell me if ye know!
  'Tis that same soul by Jesus cleansed,
  Washed whiter far than snow!
  There's nought more pure above the skies,
  And nought else pure below."

It is true that this describes our standing before God, even now, down here. It is true that we do fail: but even so the Spirit of God does speak of our "pure minds," (2 Peter 3:1), and He does say: "Love one another with a pure heart fervently," (1 Peter 1:22), and He does tell us that "Unto the pure all things are pure." (Titus 1:15). Our Lord Jesus used the word 'good' relatively. He said, "A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things." Yet He said again, speaking absolutely, not relatively: "There is none good but one, that is God." (Matt. 19:17).

It may be in a somewhat similar way the Spirit of God speaks of whatsoever things are pure. It is true we must each one say with Paul: "I count not myself to have apprehended:" but let us also say with Paul, "But this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, down to the goal I press!" The priests in the Tabernacle had to wash at the Brazen Laver every time they went into the Tabernacle, or came near the altar to minister. (Ex. 30:18-21). It was thus they kept themselves clean. It meant they must wash in water many times a day, and thus with the 'Water of the Word' we obey the admonition, "Keep thyself pure."

Let us never lower God's standard to meet our weakness: but rather let us press on, with our eyes fixed on the Goal: on our Lord Himself. Let us CONSIDER HIM (Heb. 12:3). Another has said, "The first look at Christ gives life, and every after-look the power of living." And old Richard Baxter said truly: "For every look at self take ten at Christ."

"Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling (stumbling), and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen. (Jude 24:25).

* * * * *

Now we come to one of the loveliest of all the subjects on which we are to meditate: "Whatsoever-(things are) lovely", or "loveable."

Excellent as it is to meditate on whatsoever is true and noble, just and pure, they often condemn us so greatly that they leave us sad and discouraged: but when we meditate on whatsoever is lovely or loveable, it fills our hearts with peace and joy.

Again the Greek word we are to consider is found in no other place in the New Testament; and again not very easy to translate accurately. It is said to tell of whatever provokes, or calls forth, love. And you will remember that is one of the things unto which we may provoke one another: Hebrews 10:24. "Consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works". If we heed our verse in Philippians, if we meditate on whatsoever provokes to love, we will know better how to provoke one another in this blessed way. Alas, too often we provoke one another to hard and bitter thoughts, by faultfinding and unkind, perhaps even unfair, criticism. It is so easy to find fault with one's fellow-believers, but spirituality and the love of Christ in our hearts will see their graces and good points. Then we will think of them as loved of the Father and given by Him to Christ, as accepted and beautiful in His sight. And let us remember there are some unlovely things in ourselves.

When I was a child a brother went from our little meeting (where everybody knew and loved each other) to a large meeting in a big city. He wrote back complaining of the lack of love. Years later I came across the letter my father wrote in reply. He reminded the brother of the old pump we had and that at times it would not give any water, no matter how hard you pumped. But, if you would pour a pail of water down the pump, "prime it" as we used to say, then you could get all the water you wanted: and so, he added, "pour in a little love and see what happens". Yes, "Love begets love". And if we want to meditate on lovely, or loveable things, let us pour in a little love, and the result may surprise us, as we discover how much there is in the saints to call forth our love.

After our first five years in China, we had been home 2 or 3 weeks, and the children were terribly homesick for the dear Chinese people they loved so well: they had not seen one. On a snowy afternoon in February, we were walking down a quiet street, when suddenly the children saw a Chinese man with a big box on a hand-sleigh, delivering laundry. He was old, and stooped, he had lost most of his teeth, and was about as ugly an old man as you could find. His arms filled with parcels of laundry he was about to deliver. The children saw him, and instantly all four rushed across the street and started talking to him. He was so amazed to hear these fair-haired little ones talking in his own tongue wherein he was born, that he dropped the laundry in the snow and did not trouble to pick it up; and the five of them had a really good time together. My little daughter of eight came back, and as she took my hand again, she looked up with a great sigh of satisfaction and said: "O Daddy, isn't he perfectly lovely!" I understood, and so replied, "Yes, Darling, he surely is!" Love has that wondrous power to turn unlovely things into both lovely and loveable ones.

I think we may be how many lovely things there are on which we may meditate. A little child called, "Oh, come quickly! The gates of Heaven are open wide, and all the glory's shining through!" She had found something very lovely in a beautiful sunset. "The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament sheweth His handiwork." (Psalm 19:1). And sometimes (if we have eyes to see it) His glory does "shine through". To us, His own, who know His love, He gives all these things richly to enjoy. (1 Tim. 6:17). And they tell us not only of His glory, but also of His love, which provided them: and thus we may truly count them amongst the "lovely things" on which we are to meditate.

"Heaven above is softer blue,
    Earth around is sweeter green:
Something lives in every hue
    Christless eyes have never seen;
Birds with gladder songs o'erflow,
    Flowers with deeper beauty shine,
Since I know, as now I know,
    I am His; and He is mine".
        (G. W. Robinson)

But there is better yet: though there is so much that is truly loveable in the Lord's own people, and so much that is lovely in His handiwork; we must turn our eyes elsewhere to behold the only One who is "altogether lovely". (Song of Sol. 5:16). No flaw or disappointment we will ever find in Him, as we may in all else below; and yet, strange as it may seem, there was a time when we saw in Him "no beauty that we should desire Him". But now, through His infinite grace, we may say:

"My meditation of Him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the Lord". (Psalm 104:34).

* * * * *

"Whatsoever-(things are) of-good-report." (or, "sweet-to-speak-of")

The words 'of-good-report" translate only one Greek word: euphemos. It is found only here in the New Testament, though a similar word, formed from it, is found in 2 Cor. 6:8, linked with its opposite: and they are translated: "by evil report and good report." The word is not easy to translate accurately. It has been suggested that 'sweet-to-speak-of; winning; winsome; gracious; attractive' give to some extent the true meaning. There is an example from the Classics said to mean: 'putting the most favourable construction on the account.' I think that helps greatly to understand the meaning we seek.

I believe this to be a most important exhortation, and one of the most solemn of all in this verse 8. It is not unlike the one before it: Whatsoever things are lovely, or loveable. Oh, that we might have our minds occupied with such things! Oh, that we might meditate on the gracious, winsome things in the saints, and in others about us! Oh, that we might put the most favourable construction on every report we hear. Love thinketh no evil. Love believeth all things: not the evil things, but the good ones: and where it cannot actually believe all the good it would like, it at least hopeth all things: it hopes the good report is true, and the evil one false.

Notice there is not the slightest suggestion we should meditate on the evil report: but only on the good. A Scripture that might go well with this part of our verse is 1 Peter 4:8: "Above all things have fervent love among yourselves: for love shall cover the multitude of sins." With the sins and evil reports covered by love, we will be free to meditate on whatsoever things are of good report.

This does not, of course, mean that we are to make light of evil, or go on with it. But evil that is dealt with in true love, will win the erring one again, instead of driving him further away. I recall two brothers who were deputed to go to a brother who had turned aside, and tell him he could no longer partake at the Lord's table. When they reached the brother's home, they both broke down, and could not speak for weeping. That was a more eloquent plea to turn from his evil course than any words could be: and that dear brother was restored.

We have been considering the word euphemos, gracious, or, of good report. Its opposite is dusphemos, which means 'slanderous'. Do you know the literal meaning of the word that is nearly always translated 'devil' in the English Bible? The literal meaning is 'slanderer,' and it is so translated in 1 Tim. 3:11. True, it is a different word to dusphemos (the opposite of the word we have been considering) but the meaning is very much the same. Those who slandered Paul in 2 Cor. 6:8 were, I doubt not, persons who were Christians, — at least in name. And you remember we saw in Philippians 1 that there were those who 'preached Christ' out of envy and strife, hoping to add affliction to Paul's bonds.

And our hearts are no better than the hearts of the saints of old: and it is not unknown for us to meditate on things of evil report; and the next result is of course to speak evil of the one concerned, for out of the fulness of the heart, the mouth speaks; and so we become 'slanderers', and are doing the devil's own work, — helping him. We all do well to remember the Bible says: Put them in mind to speak evil of no man. (Titus 3:1-2). And again, Speak not evil one of another, Brethren. (James 4:11).

A friend of mine felt keenly that he had this evil habit, and as a remedy had a Text made to hang exactly opposite his place at the dinner table, with the words: "The brother for whom Christ died." (See: 1 Cor. 8:11). How slow we would be to listen to, or to meditate on, or to repeat evil reports of a brother, if we remembered these few words, and kept in mind how Christ loves him. Another Scripture we might remember is Proverbs 25:23: "The north wind driveth away rain: so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue." That, I doubt not, is the Lord's way to treat most of the evil reports about the saints of God. But how lovely to see that in Philippians it speaks nothing at all about the evil side: it does not suggest that a saint of God might speak evil: but it only directs our hearts and thoughts to what is good.

But we may not leave this lovely theme of meditation without recalling the very best Report that ever came to this poor, sad, sin-sick world: such a Report that we write it with a capital "R". (Isaiah 53:1). And what was the result? The One who sent it must ask, "Who hath believed our Report?" You and I know the answer: how pitifully few there are who believe and meditate on this Report! Such a good report, yet so few believed it! It is the Report of One Who was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities. This is the best, and the most wonderful Report this world has ever heard: and so it claims first place in our meditations on "whatever things are of good report". And thus again, we find our verse leads us once more to our adorable Lord and Saviour, and there is none so 'sweet-to-speak-of' as He!

* * * * *

The form of expression changes now: stead of "whatsoever …" we get, "If there be …". "If (there be) any virtue". The word translated virtue is used in the New Testament only here and three times in Peter. We might think it strange that Paul so carefully avoids the use of this word; for it is one that is full of life and meaning. The Greek word comes from one that means "a warlike spirit", which in turn gave the idea of manhood and bravery: and this in the eyes of the Greeks was the greatest virtue: but in the eyes of Him Who is meek and lowly in heart there are other virtues that excel this. Perhaps it is for this reason Paul only uses it here. Our English word virtue comes from a Latin word meaning manliness, strength, courage: compare our English word virile. And because these qualities were also admired by the Romans, it also came to mean excellence, goodness: so virtue corresponds very closely to the Greek word it translates in our verse. It is true that now virtue has lost the meaning of courage, and has come to mean "moral excellence", though it still retains the meaning of power: we speak of the virtue of a medicine, meaning its power.

Mr. Darby calls this virtue, "Spiritual Courage", or "Moral Energy". The Christian life is a warfare. From the day we are converted, till the day we leave this world, the Christian life is one long, hard fight. "Fight the good fight of faith" (1 Tim. 6:12). "War a good warfare". (1 Tim. 1:18). And how carefully the Word describes the armour of God for us. (Eph. 6; Rom. 13:12; 2 Cor. 6:7). In 2 Peter 1:5 we are told to add to our faith virtue: the same word we have been considering. The first thing we need after faith, is courage, — courage to confess Jesus as our Lord. How often the Word tells us: "Be strong and of a good courage". Seven times Joshua was given this command when he was to lead the people into the promised land. And if we are to take possession of the heavenly blessings promised us, we too must have this "virtue", of "spiritual courage" and "moral energy". And I doubt not the way to get it is by meditating upon it. How we see this "virtue" in many of the martyrs!

But once again we may see that the only One who had this virtue in perfection is our Lord Jesus Christ. Read the Gospels: Read how fearlessly He met His enemies: How fearlessly He cured on the Sabbath, well knowing the hatred it would bring: and above all read the story of the "trial" and the death of our Saviour, and there we will see aretes, "virtue", in its perfection. May the Lord give us to be more like our Lord and Master in this wondrous quality. Meanwhile let us meditate more upon it: upon Him.
"O fix our earnest gaze
 So wholly Lord on Thee,
 That with Thy beauty occupied,
 We elsewhere none may see".

* * * * *

And finally we come to the eighth and last of this blessed list of subjects for meditation: "If (there be) any praise, on these-(things) meditate". I doubt not our first thought should be with regard to the praise of God: "Whose praise is not of men, but of God". When we get the praise of men, then we have our reward. (Matt. 6:1-6). The Greek word used for "reward" is apecho, and expresses the same meaning as our words: "Paid in Full". When the hypocrites did their alms, they sounded a trumpet before them, that they might have glory of men: and thus their reward was "Paid in Full". (Deissmann). We do not want this sort of praise.

But how the Lord delights to encourage our hearts with a word of praise; and when He will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: "then shall every man have praise of God". (1 Cor. 4:5). How encouraging this is! Just think, there is with every one of the Lord's own, even the ones who are hardest to get on with, something in the counsels of his heart, which the Lord can, and will, praise.

But we must not forget there was a brother, whose name we do not know, whose praise in the Gospel was in all the churches. (2 Cor. 8:18). I am sure he did not seek that praise, but he was a man whom the Lord delighted to honour. So while ever seeking first the praise of God, we need not, I judge, be entirely without regard to our brethren's praise also. But let us also remember how easy it is to have our eyes turned towards men, rather than to our Lord alone: and also remember "If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ". (Gal. 1:10).

But the day is coming soon when some of His servants will hear Him say, "Well done, good and faithful servant!" And that "well done" is worth more than all the earthly praise that ever was given. May my reader, and the writer, have the unspeakable joy of hearing those words from their Master's lips! May the Lord help us to think on, meditate on, "calculate" these eight things: whatsoever things are True, Noble, Just, Pure, Lovely, Of Good Report, Things of Virtue, and of Praise!

In Verse 8 we have just contemplated those eight wondrous subjects of meditation: those eight things on which we are to meditate, or think, or calculate. Now, in Verse 9 we hear of those things which we are to do.

"What-(things) ye both learned, and received, and heard, and saw in me, these-(things) practise: and the God of-peace shall-be with you".

Verse 8 ended thus: "Meditate on these things". We must remember that the punctuation was not in the old Greek manuscripts, from which we have the Scriptures: and it may be that Verse 9 should continue straight on from Verse 8, without a break; so it would read something in this way: "Meditate on these things, which things also ye learned, and received, and heard, and saw in me: these things practise". I believe the Greek may be translated either this way, or as we find it in the Authorised Version. (See Bagster's new Interlinear New Testament). If this translation is the way the Spirit of God intends us to read this passage, it would tell us that they had already learned, received, heard, and seen these eight lovely qualities in Paul himself: and I doubt not this was true. If the usual translation is the correct one, it would not refer back to these things in Verse 8, but to the general "manner of life" they knew in Paul, and that doubtless would include all in the previous verse.

Whichever way is correct, it is quite plain that the Lord is telling us that not only are we to hear and meditate: but also to do. How often the Lord exhorts us to be doers of the Word, and not hearers only: (James 1:22): the man who built on the sand, heard but did not do. But the one who built on the Rock, both heard and practised. An example goes very much further than an exhortation; and an example is just what Paul could give to the Philippian saints. We may see all four of these exhortations spoken of in Paul's Epistles. To the Ephesians he wrote: "Ye have not so learned Christ". (4:20). To the Colossians: "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him" (2:6); or to the Thessalonians he could speak of "the tradition which he received of us". (2 Thess. 3:6). To the Colossians again he wrote: "The hope of the Gospel which ye have heard" (1:23). And to the Philippians themselves he could speak of the conflict "which ye saw in me". There are many other examples we might refer to: but these will illustrate how we each one must have experienced in some measure, from some of the servants of the Lord, these four things. Now, let us DO them. And "The God of peace shall be with you". This is far more than even the "peace of God", which we saw in Verse 7, as the Divine Sentinel to guard our hearts and thoughts. This is the Divine Guest Himself, Who will come and "make His home in your hearts", as Ephesians 3:17 has been rendered. It reminds us of John 14:23, where to the one who keeps the Lord's words, He promises: "My Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him". And the word for abode is the very same as that used for the many mansions of which He tells us in the second verse.

We see the heart and thoughts guarded from evil by the Peace of God; then we see the heart furnished with the true and pure and lovely "furniture" of Verse 8 and then we see the thoughts turned into acts: acts such as they had seen in the beloved Apostle himself: acts, which doubtless kept our Lord's words; and the crowning result: the glorious climax (if we may so speak), the God of Peace Himself comes to take up His abode in that heart prepared for Him. We spoke of Him as the Divine Guest: but another has said: "not as a Guest, precariously detained, but as a Master, resident in His proper home".

May it be so, Beloved, with you and with me!

Chapter 41


"But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."

"But I-rejoiced in (the) Lord greatly that now at-length ye-have-bloomed-again in-thinking on-behalf-of me, though indeed ye-did also think, but had-no-opportunity. Not that I-speak on-account-of want, for 1 have-learned in whatever-(circumstances) I-am, to-be content. I-know both to-be-brought-low, I-know also to-run-over: in every-(matter) and in all-(circumstances) I-have-been-initiated (or, I-have-been-taught-the-secret) both to-be-filled (or, to-have-plenty) and to-be-hungry, both to-run-over (or, abound) and to-be-in-want. I-have-strength-for all-(things) in the-(One) empowering me."

Philippians 4:10 to 13

"But I-rejoiced in (the) Lord greatly that now at-length ye-have-bloomed-again in-thinking on-behalf-of me, though indeed ye did also think, but had-no-opportunity". (Phil. 4:10).

The letter is drawing to a close, and we come now to what was perhaps the main cause of its being written: even to acknowledge the gifts that the saints in Philippi had sent to Paul by Epaphroditus. We do not know what these gifts were: but we do know they caused great joy to the heart of the dear prisoner at Rome.

More than fifty years ago I recall a letter being read in a gathering of the Lord's people in which the first part of the words above were quoted. As I recall, the old brother who wrote the letter was thanking for a gift that had been sent him by this gathering of saints. It was a good many years since they had sent him a gift: as they had been offended by some plain speaking: and the rift had sorely wounded the old brother's heart: not that he desired a gift, but he yearned over these saints. But at last there was real repentance, and shame at their conduct; and the old brother rejoiced greatly that now at length they had bloomed again in thinking of him; and that the old, happy fellowship was restored once more.

Paul's great joy was perhaps similar, but the reason he had not received a gift from the Philippian saints was from an entirely different cause: they lacked the opportunity. As far as I know we have no knowledge how long it was since their last gift: but were the time long or short, the delay was not from any lack of love or desire: and now, at almost the cost of a brother's life, they sent once again to him.

"Now at-length ye-have-bloomed-again in-thinking on-behalf-of me, though indeed ye-did also think, but had-no-opportunity." (Phil. 4:10)

Here we get a new application of the word to think, a word we have already had before us eight times: making ten times in all. This does not include Verse 8, Chapter 4, which, as we saw, is a different word. In the Second Chapter we translated it: "Have this mind in you." And the Greek word does point to our mind. They had Paul in their mind. You remember in Chapter 1:7 we had the expression, "I have you in my heart," and we saw it could also mean they had Paul in their heart. This, I think, is somewhat the same. Now, at length, this thought had bloomed again in such a way as to produce this very practical fruit. The word translated 'bloomed' is a beautiful figure of a tree sprouting, and blooming afresh in spring (Vaughan). It is only used here in the New Testament.

The Apostle quickly adds, so that there might be no thought of upbraiding them, — "though indeed ye did also think, but had no opportunity". The thought of him had been there all the time, but the opportunity to act was lacking. These fresh gifts from the saints in Philippi stirred memories of the beginning of the Gospel in Europe, when these same saints had sent once and again to his want, when he was at Thessalonica. And Paul rejoices "greatly". It is the only place in Scripture where this particular word is found. We have seen that Paul uses the word "rejoice" eleven times, and joy five times, in this Epistle. This is the last; and it seems as though it is the greatest. It seems right that he who had taught them to rejoice in the Lord, should himself excel in this characteristic. And what joy it must have given the hearts of his brethren so well beloved, to know that they had been the cause of his great joy.

"Not that I-speak on-account-of want, for I-have-learned in whatever-(circumstances) I-am, to-be-content." (Literally, to-be-self-sufficing, as a country that needs no imports, but supplies everything it requires). (Phil. 4:11).

Paul would not want them to think he was speaking from covetousness, or suggesting that he had been suffering because they had not sent sooner unto his need, as though he hoped they might send further gifts. For it is not easy to write of such matters: on the one hand to express the deep gratitude that is in the heart, and at the same time avoid any suggestion of covetousness. These verses are a very beautiful example of the Lord's own way to write such a letter.

The Apostle continues by telling us a lesson he had learned: — contentment in all circumstances. It did not come to him naturally: but needed learning: and it is a lesson we all of us need to learn: the lesson of being content, yet independent of men. I have heard one say: "So you are an independent missionary?" And I have heard the reply: "Independent of men, but very dependent on God". And if we depend truly on Him, we are content with whatever He may send: whether it be want or whether it be abundance. Let us remember, "Jehovah … said … I am El Shaddai," — the God who is sufficient.' (Gen. 17:1, Literal). It is a very blessed lesson, but one we are very slow to learn: for it is so easy to lean on the visible, rather than on the Invisible. This is the only place in the New Testament where we find this word, 'self-sufficing.'

"I-know both to-be-brought-low, I-know also to-run-over". (Phil. 4:12).

It was perhaps no very uncommon thing for Paul to be brought low: to be in want. He seems to have learned this lesson well. And I think very probably it is a lesson that every true servant of Christ may need to learn. I recall a time when we were having lessons in this class in the School of God, and then it was we discovered the wondrous preciousness of the word poor in the Psalms: something we probably would never have otherwise known.

There are a number of reasons why the servant of God should tread this path: and perhaps the first is that then we learn, as perhaps in no other way, the faithfulness, the love, and the power of God. When the earthly props are removed, then we find out what a wondrous thing it is to lean on the Father's arm: on the arm of El Shaddai the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY: — "the God Who is Enough."

There may be apparent causes for being in want: but always let us remember it is the Lord who allows it. It may be that the saints of God have not learned the privilege and blessedness of having fellowship in the Gospel in this very practical way: or they may not realize that it is the Lord's own order that "they which preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel." (1 Cor. 9:14). Then, again, there are saints today who are just as truly ready, as those dear Philippian saints were, to give to their power, yea, and beyond their power: (2 Cor. 8:1-3): but like them also, they lack opportunity: circumstances make it impossible. And I grieve to say there may be those from whom the Lord's servants may not be free to accept gifts, as in the case of Paul and the assembly at Corinth (2 Cor. 11:7-12).

One of the saddest reasons of all for the Lord's servant being in want is that at times evil reports are spread about him. If they are true, it is better for him to withdraw from such public service, rather than disgrace the Name of his Master. But there are times when ignorance or misunderstanding of facts; or a careless, exaggerated story lightly told; or even jealousy, can spread reports, not true, that do untold harm to the Lord's servants and to the Lord's work. Paul himself knew something of this, as we may see from 2 Corinthians. The Lord's servant may be far away, and without opportunity to correct false statements; or even without knowledge of the stories spread, so we need to be very careful that there is adequate proof before we accept or help to spread such matters. All these things help to teach the servant of God the same lessons that Paul tells us he had learned. They are lessons that must be learned, they do not come to us naturally. And like the little children at school, sometimes the lessons are learned with tears.

But there is another side to this question. Paul made it his boast that he kept himself from being burdensome (2 Cor. 11:9-10): and there are some who walk in Paul's footsteps in this matter even to this day. As you know, he supported not only himself, but those labouring with him, by making tents (Acts 20:34; 18:3). If my memory serves me rightly, the Moravian missionaries in the old days sought as far as possible to walk according to this rule: and experience taught them that medical doctors were specially suited for this. You remember that at times a certain doctor travelled with Paul, and helped in the Gospel.

It is a remarkable thing that (as far as I can recall), the assembly at Philippi is the only one of which we have any record of sending gifts to Paul; unless it was the "barbarians" in Melita: though I always rejoice to see that when he wrote the Epistle to the Romans he was guest of Gaius; and I think this means that his tents and his tools were, for the time being, put away. I hope it also means that the two Epistles to the Corinthians had done their work and that now at last the Apostle was free to accept the fellowship of hospitality from one brother, at least, in that assembly.

You may have noticed how many unusual words we have in these verses, and there are more to follow. The form of the sentence we are considering: — "I know both to-be-brought-low, I know also to-run-over", — is said not to occur anywhere else in the Greek New Testament. (Vaughan). Is the reason that we have so many rare words and constructions in this portion of Scripture, that the subject of giving thanks for a gift is such a rare one? But the knowledge to be brought low, or to abound, is surely rare; and possibly to know how to abound is the more rare.

The story is told of a beloved servant of the Lord who, in his own right, was very wealthy. One night in the prayer meeting he asked prayer for a brother who had had a great calamity. A friend walking home with him enquired who the brother was for whom they had been praying. He replied, "Myself". "Oh," the other asked, "If it is not too inquisitive, may I know what the calamity is?" "I have just had word of a large legacy that has been left to me and the responsibility to use it aright is so heavy." I believe that brother had learned the lesson how to abound. He and his devoted wife had a large and beautiful home in London, where they lived on the top floor, devoting the rest of the house to the Lord's people who were in need. My mother has told me how her widowed mother, with a young family, homeless for Christ's sake, were taken into that home and tenderly cared for. But these are lessons that we may see in perfection only in Him who was rich, yet for our sakes became poor. How it bows our hearts in adoration to know that "Though He were a Son, yet learned HE obedience by the things which He suffered".

In Phil. 2:8 we had the very same word: "to run low:" but there it is He Himself who made Himself low. It is one of those amazing steps downward that we saw our Lord voluntarily take, for our sakes. So if we, like Paul, must learn the lesson of being brought low: let us remember our Lord knows all about it: He has walked that road before us; and none ever went so low as He.

"In every-(matter) and in all-(circumstances) I-have-been-initiated (or, I-have-been-taught-the-secret) both to-be-filled (or, to-have-plenty) and to-be-hungry, both to-run-over (or, abound) and to-be-in-want." (Phil. 4:12).

"I have been initiated" is another word found nowhere else in Scripture. It comes from the same root as our word mystery. It was used of the secret religious rites of paganism: and of the initiation into them. These were jealously guarded from common knowledge, like Freemasonry today; and admission into these secrets was sought by people of all kinds, from Roman emperors downward: with the special hope of freedom from evil in this life and the next. Paul's use of this word to supply language for Christian experience is very suggestive. The knowledge of the peace of God, of utter contentment, is indeed an open secret, open to 'whosoever will' learn of Him.' But it is a secret, a mystery, none the less. (See Moule).

'I-have-been-initiated' is in the Perfect Passive, suggestive of the work of Another, who with pains and care initiated him; and also of the abiding character of the initiation. It is a secret all believers may learn: but it must be learned. I think it tells of self-denial; and earnest, fervent prayer; of diligently keeping ourselves from the entanglements of this life: and these may be legitimate affairs: but affairs that have lost their attraction to the initiated.'

"In every matter and in all circumstances" is literally: "In every (thing) and in all-(things)." This is another rare construction. In Gal. 1:1, we get a plural and a singular together; not of things, but of men. Here, in Philippians, I think the thought is that in every separate thing, and in all collected circumstances of life, Paul had been initiated. It is somewhat the same as we had in Verse 6, "In everything by prayer … let your requests be made known unto God." 'Everything' sees all together: 'your requests' sees each individual request alone by itself.

"I-have-been-initiated both to-be-filled and to-be-hungry, both to-run-over and to-be-in-want." Perhaps not many of us in the more favoured lands of 'the West' know much about the secret of learning to be hungry: but many of our brethren in 'the East' have learned this lesson thoroughly. It was a lesson our Lord Himself had learned. See Luke 4:2; Mark 11:12, and ponder Matthew 25:35 & 42. We might do well to remember that there is another hunger described in Matthew 5:6, into which we all would do well to become initiated.

"I-have-strength-for all-(things) in the-(One) empowering me." (Phil. 4:13). What wonderful words to come from a man in prison, one who was apparently in most abject circumstances, and in no small danger: one who was unable to do anything, as men would say. But faith speaks according to God, and the one who could do nothing, in the judgment of others, is the very one who could say he had strength for all things: — not in himself, truly, but, — in the One empowering him. The word translated 'empowering' is the word from which we get dynamite and dynamo; what mighty power is expressed in each of those words: but the One who empowered Paul was mightier than all dynamite and all dynamos. He is the One who could say: "All power is given unto Me in heaven and on earth." And therefore we are to go into all the world and preach the Gospel. And it is because all power is given unto Christ that we may take up Paul's language (for we have the very same One to empower us) and say: "I have strength for all things in the One empowering me." Our Lord Jesus said truly: "Without Me ye can do nothing." (John 15:5). But here we have the other side: "In the One empowering" us, we can do all things.

"People sometimes say, 'We are such poor things we can do nothing.' This may sound very humble, but it is not Christianity. Paul's Christ is ours, and His strength avails for us as it did for him. He never sends any a warfare at their own charges. If He calls you to pursue a certain path, or to do a certain work for Him, He will give you strength for both. His commands are all enablings. This triumphant note in closing the Epistle to the Philippians contrasts with the closing words of the Thessalonian Epistles. There it is the coming of the Lord; here it is the work, the warfare, and the triumphs and trials and difficulties. He is in full harness, still pressing on in the fight, and singing as he advances, because he knows God is with him, and Christ's strength is sufficient for him." (Lincoln).

* * * * *

"Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness." (Colossians 1:11)

Ambassadors for Christ
"Who are these who come amongst us,
    Strangers to our speech and ways?
Passing by our joys and treasures,
    Singing in the darkest days?
Are they pilgrims journeying on
From a land we have not known?"

* * * * *

He hath sent us, that in sorrow,
    In rejection, toil, and loss,
We may learn the wondrous sweetness,
    Learn the mystery of His cross —
Learn the depth of love that traced
That blest path across the waste.

He hath sent us highest honours
    Of His cross and shame to win,
Bear His light through deepest darkness,
    Walk in white 'midst foulest sin;
Sing amidst the wintry gloom,
Sing the blessed songs of home.

From the dark and troubled waters
    Many a pearl to Him we bear;
Golden sheaves we bring with singing,
    Fulness of His joy we share;
And our pilgrim journey o'er,
Praise with Him for evermore.
    (T.P.; From, Hymns of Ter Steegen and Others)

Chapter 42

Full and Running Over

"Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction. Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things (which were sent) from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God. But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Now unto God and our Father (be) glory for ever and ever. Amen".

"Notwithstanding you-did well becoming-partakers-together-with me in my (the) tribulation. But you also, O-Philippians, you-know that in (the) beginning of-the gospel, when I-came-out from Macedonia, not-one assembly partook-with me (or, had-fellowship-with me) as-to (the) matter of-giving and receiving, but only you alone; for even in Thessalonica both once and twice you-sent to-me unto my (the) need. Not that I-am-seeking-after the gift, but I-am-seeking-after the fruit, the (fruit) abounding unto your account. But I-have-to-the-full all-(things) and I-am-running-over; I-have-been-filled-full, having-received from Epaphroditus the-(things) from you, an odour of-fragrance, a-sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to-God. But my God will-fill-full every need of-yours, according-to His wealth, in glory, in Christ Jesus. Now unto our God and Father (be) all the glory unto the ages of-the ages. Amen".

Philippians 4:14 to 20

"Notwithstanding you did well becoming-partakers-together-with me in my tribulation." (4:14)

In Chapter 4, Verse 10, the Apostle first mentions the gift that the saints in Philippi had sent to him: "your care of me," he calls it. If we are writing to thank for a gift we usually speak of the gift first, before any other matter: but the Apostle leaves it till the end.

After referring in this way to the gift, and to his rejoicing in the Lord because of their care for him, he breaks off this subject to tell them that he did not speak in respect of want, as though he would be glad of more gifts: (though indeed he may very possibly have been in want): for he had learned the lesson to be content, whether full or hungry, whether he abounded, or suffered need: and so he makes it plain he was not seeking after a gift. Indeed, he takes the greatest pains to make it clear it was no question of covetousness. Compare this with Acts 20:33: "I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel". How utterly different to the appeals for gifts that we so often see and hear today. How rare is the spirit of the Apostle! But it was not the gift so much that made Paul rejoice: but the love that made these dear saints become partakers with his afflictions. It is not everybody who is willing to have it known that he is a friend of a man in jail: but, like Onesiphorus in a little later day, these saints oft refreshed him, and they were not ashamed of his chain. (2 Tim. 1:26). The Lord is careful to record the fact that the saints to whom the Epistle to the Hebrews was written not only suffered reproaches and afflictions, but also became companions of them that were so used, and he adds: "For ye had compassion of me in my bonds". (Heb. 10:34).

These cases being so carefully recorded for us, tell us how precious in the sight of God is participation in tribulation for the sake of the Gospel. Paul needed to exhort Timothy not to be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner: but "be thou partaker of the afflictions of the Gospel," or, "suffer evil along with the glad tidings". (2 Tim. 1:8, New Trans.) Moses esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt: and so did the saints in Philippi. And the Spirit says to them: "Ye did well", or, as it may be translated: "Ye did nobly".

"But you also, O-Philippians, you-know that in (the) beginning of the Gospel, when I came-out from Macedonia, not-one assembly partook with me (or, had-fellowship-with me) as to (the)-matter of-giving and receiving, but only you alone; for even in Thessalonica once and twice you-sent unto my need." (4:15-16).

It is striking that (as far as I can recall) Philippi is the only assembly of the many founded by Paul of whom it is recorded that they shared with him in his daily needs. On the contrary, in speaking to the elders of Ephesus, the Apostle tells them: "Ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them with me." And it is no light matter to minister to the needs of a party as large as those sometimes with Paul. Can you not see the Apostle stretch out those work-worn hands, hard and calloused with tent-making, as he speaks of "these hands"?

And writing to the Thessalonians he says: "Ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable to any of you, we preached unto you the Gospel of God." (1 Thess. 2:9). And ponder 2 Cor. 11:7-10: "Have I committed an offence in debasing myself, … because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely? I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service. And when I was present and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself. As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia."

I do not know that he refused gifts from any assembly except Corinth: and we must remember that Paul says it was "in the beginning of the Gospel," that is, I presume, in the early days of the Gospel in Europe, "not one assembly had fellowship with me as to the matter of giving and receiving." It is possible that later on some of the other assemblies did have fellowship with him in this way. But Paul tells us that his 'reward' for preaching the Gospel is, "When I preach the Gospel, I may make the Gospel of Christ without charge." (1 Cor. 9:18). That seems to have been the principle on which Paul laboured generally; but the assembly at Philippi was a very bright exception: for from them again and again he received gifts.

And we must notice that Paul makes a difference between gifts to himself personally, and gifts to the poor, as those in Jerusalem. He encourages the Corinthian assembly to give to the collection for these poor saints: though he will accept nothing for himself. And we must also notice that Paul acknowledges his indebtedness to many individuals; though Philippi seems to be the only assembly that ministered to him thus. Nor may we forget that gifts of money are only one way in which we may have fellowship with the Lord's servants. How many are deeply indebted to the saints for hospitality, given without grudging. I think Lydia is the first Paul speaks of: (unless we count his fifteen day visit with Peter): and she lived in Philippi. But 'Gaius mine host' lived in Corinth. (Rom. 16:23; 1 Cor. 1:14); and it is lovely to see that though he would not accept fellowship from the assembly, he gladly acknowledges it from an individual: and one hopes it means that things were in a better state in Corinth. Other helpers of whom Paul speaks are, — Phoebe, 'a succourer of many, and of myself also;' (Rom. 16:2); another was the mother of Rufus: 'his mother and mine.' (Rom. 16:13). And what a debt he owed to 'Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus.' (Rom. 16:3-4). Philemon and Apphia are a couple so closely knit in bonds of love that Paul can boldly say, 'Prepare me also a lodging.' (Philemon 22). And there was Philip the Evangelist and his four daughters, and Mnason of Cyprus (Acts 21:8 & 16), and doubtless many others whose names are known in Heaven. And so we see in the Apostle's journeying a noble army of "Givers", who have shared the reproach and affliction and poverty of the Lord's servants, and they are still with us today: (to how very many am I personally indebted!): to whom I am sure the Lord will say: "Well done! Ye have done nobly!"

We see from these verses in Philippians 4 that Paul had not forgotten the gifts of the Philippians in those early days; probably ten years or more before; indeed the fragrance of them still lingers: "You know also all about those days," he says, "You know that not only did you contribute to my wants after I left Macedonia, but even in Thessalonica (another city of Macedonia, about 90 miles away) before I left your Province, you sent once and twice to me." As far as we know Paul was only in Thessalonica for a short time: it might be only three weeks; but of this we are not at all sure: but twice at least in this short time, the saints in Philippi sent gifts to him. And later when he was at the wealthy city of Corinth, far south of Macedonia, and being in real need, it was saints from Macedonia who met that shortage: undoubtedly saints from Philippi, though possibly also from Thessalonica and Berea.

We will, God willing, speak later about the gifts referred to in 2 Cor. 8, when Paul with his fellow-labourers were making a collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem: not gifts to Paul himself: and this may have been several years after the saints in Philippi so lovingly sent to him at Thessalonica and Corinth. This occasion is referred to again in Romans 15:26, etc., "It hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem."

"Not that I am seeking after the gift, but I am seeking the fruit, the (fruit) abounding unto your account." (4:17).

In another place Paul wrote: "I seek not yours, but you." (2 Cor. 12:14). None could ever accuse the apostle of covetousness. Deeply as Paul valued the gift: greatly as he rejoiced at their remembrance of him having bloomed again: and much needed, as we may suppose the gift to have been: it was not the gift that Paul sought, or that so rejoiced his heart: but the fruit abounding to the account of his dear Philippian brethren.

The object of all labour should be fruit of some kind or other: and the husbandman, labouring first, must be partaker of the fruit; (2 Tim. 2:6, New Translation); though God, in His grace, often lets us reap fruit from other men's labours: "I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours." (John 4:38). There was a fruit tree that 'had nothing but leaves,' a great show, but no fruit, so quite useless.

Some have large sums to their credit down here; but are miserably poor as regards their account in Heaven: they have little or no fruit garnered up there: and they may find that their toil has produced 'nothing but leaves.' But I recall a dear old saint, a poor widow, who had a long and serious illness. She had a Christian doctor, who gave her the utmost possible care, sparing neither labour nor expense, to help his patient. As she began to recover she thought of her doctor's bill, and became deeply troubled. She begged the doctor to tell her how much she owed. The good doctor replied, "Mrs. S., that's all settled. I carry a little account in the Bank of Heaven; and that took care of it all." I think that doctor never grew rich, but I hope he has a large account in Heaven.

Bishop Moule translates this portion thus: "Not that I am in quest of (almost, 'I am hunting for') the gift, the mere sum of money in and for itself; but I am in quest of the interest that is accumulating to your account". And in a note he adds: "I venture to render these words as above, as a monetary phrase, relating to principal and interest". He adds that Chrysostom, a Greek, seemed to understand it thus.

But we read so much about fruit in the Scriptures that we must not lose sight of it here. In Chapter 1 of this Epistle, Verses 9 to 11, the Apostle prays that the saints may approve things that are excellent … being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God". And surely now in Chapter 4 we see this prayer being answered.

Let us not forget that the fruit was to be "unto the glory and praise of God", just as our Lord said to the disciples: "Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit". It was in the very matter of giving that the Apostle wrote: "He which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully," so Paul was justified in seeking after an abundance of fruit unto their account.

In Phil. 1:22 Paul speaks of "the fruit of my labour". The Scriptures speak of fruit in various senses. For instance, Paul wished to go to Rome that he "might have some fruit among you". In Matt. 3:8 we read of fruits meet for repentance. This no doubt referred to the general walk and behaviour. The fifteenth of John speaks much of fruit: and we do well to give good heed to it: yet at the same time remember the subject is fruit-bearing, and not Eternal Life. Then we have the fruit of the Spirit: "Love, Joy, Peace," etc., Nine lovely graces, yet only spoken of as "fruit", not fruits: for they all have one Source. In John 4:36 we read, "He that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal". This fruit would appear to be souls for their hire.

May the Lord grant that you and I may bear much fruit for the glory of the Father: fruit of various kinds, perhaps: but all fruit for Him, and to His glory, that may abound unto our account.

"But I-have-to-the-full all-(things) and I-am running-over, I-have-been-filled-full, having-received from Epaphroditus the-(things) from you, an odour of-fragrance, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to-God". (Phil. 4:18).

Notice the variety of words the Apostle uses to express how bountifully he was supplied by his beloved brethren from Philippi. I think there are five different words to tell out the bounty and the fulness, and five different words to speak of the want and the poverty with which he had learned to be content.* The word translated "I-have-to-the-full," may have exactly the meaning we give it here, or it may be used as a technical term on a receipt, meaning "Received Payment;" and if followed by "all things" as here, it has the meaning of "Received Payment in full." But I do not suppose Paul is using it in this technical sense here. But it is not enough for Paul to say, "I have all things to the full;" that tells us his cup is full, but he continues: "and I am running over," or, "I am even running over." The same word is used of the servants in the Father's house who have "bread enough and to spare." And does not this word take our thoughts back to the 23rd Psalm, "My cup runneth over"? Perhaps the Apostle had this in mind as he wrote.

{*The following words are used in verses 11 to 19 for expressing need and fulness.
  husteresis: Verse 11: need, want, poverty:
  hustereo: Verse 12: to be behind, to come short, to be in want.
  tapeinoo: Verse 12: to make low, reduce to mean circumstances. (Also in 2:8)
  peinao: Verse 12: to hunger, or be hungry.
  chreia: Verse 16: Need, necessity.
  perisseuo: Verses 12 & 18: To be in abundance, exceed, or, overflow.
  chortazo: Verse 12: To satisfy with food, to fill, or satisfy.
  pleonazo: Verse 17: To abound, to superabound: to exist in abundance.
  apecho: Verse 18: To have in full, or, to have received in full.
  pleroo: Verses 18 & 19: To make full; fill to the full.}

But still he heaps up another word to express this fulness. This fresh word directs our hearts to the filling: "I have been filled full," and thence to the one who filled full his needs so abundantly, even Epaphroditus, the one sent by the Philippian saints for this very purpose: "having received from Epaphroditus the things from you."

But I think that this beautiful description of fulness should bring to our mind Him in whom "dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily," and remind us that in Chapter 2, Verse 7 we read: "He emptied Himself." Yes, Beloved, He emptied Himself that we might be "filled full in Him." (Col. 2:9-10).

Now follows immediately the most beautiful description of their gift. I cannot imagine anything described in a more lovely way. There are three short phrases that portray it, but it is only one picture.
  An odour of fragrance,*
  A sacrifice acceptable,
  Well pleasing to God.

{*The Greek word for 'fragrance' or 'sweet smell' is euodia. The correct way to spell the name 'Euodias' in Phil. 4:2 is probably 'Euodia;' though in some old manuscripts it is spelled 'Euodias,' but 'Euodia' is almost certainly correct. The difference is between a long 'o' and a short 'o'. With the long 'o' the name means 'fragrance;' with the short 'o' it means 'prosperous course' or 'prosperous journey.'

When the Apostle spoke of the 'fragrance' of the gift, I have wondered if he was seeking to arouse the conscience of Euodia, who (you remember) had a quarrel with Syntache. It was as though he said: The gift you have so willingly helped to send me is a sweet fragrance — euodia — to God: now, what about yourself, Euodia? Are you a sweet fragrance to God? You, of all people, with such a name, should behave in a way that your life is ever going up as a sweet fragrance — euodia — to God. You remember about the dead flies that made the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: (Eccles. 10:1); don't you let this quarrel come in and spoil the fragrance of Euodia — the euodia of Euodia.

I am not sure that I am justified in this: though Potts Dictionary of Bible Proper Names gives the meaning of Euodias as 'Sweet scent; prosperous course.' But I am not sure he is correct. However, we do know that Paul used a similar play on the name of Onesimus (meaning, 'serviceable') in Philemon 10 & 11: "Onesimus, once unserviceable to thee, but now serviceable to thee and to me." (New Translation). This suggests the possibility that Paul had something similar in mind, used the two words, so similar, so close together.}

The whole is a picture of one of the sacrifices in the Old Testament, perhaps Noah's sacrifice when he came out of the ark: for Paul uses the very same words to describe the Philippian saint's "sacrifice", as the Greek Old Testament uses to describe Noah's, "An odour of fragrance". The same words are used in the Greek Old Testament to describe "sweet savour offerings" in Leviticus, as, for example, Lev. 1:17. And we find exactly the same two words, used in the same way, in Eph. 5:2, of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who "hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour". Such to God was the gift of these dear Philippian saints: Paul loses sight, so to speak, of the fact that it was given to him, and thinks only of it as being given to the Lord Jesus Christ Himself: and as that sacrifice in days of old went up to God as a sweet smell, or, an odour of fragrance, just so did this gift. And Paul was right: for inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me.

But the Apostle continues: "A sacrifice acceptable." There are a number of sacrifices mentioned in the Scriptures besides those appointed through Moses: sacrifices which we can now offer: in Romans 12:1 our body is spoken of as a "living sacrifice," and this sacrifice is also said to be 'acceptable to God.' In Hebrews 13:15 we are exhorted to offer "the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name". Then in the next verse we are told not to forget to offer the sacrifice of "doing good and having fellowship, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased". This is exactly the sacrifice the Philippians had offered, and it is described in almost the same words: "God is well pleased" "well-pleasing to God".

These three sacrifices are ones that almost all can offer, if they do not "forget." Even a Christian child can offer its body; and its praise, the fruit of its lips; and most children have as much money as the poor widow who offered the two mites, and found it more acceptable to God than all the great offerings of the rich.

It is very beautiful to see the way the Apostle describes the gifts that the saints in Macedonia gave: (2 Cor. 8:1-5): "Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; how that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God." Remember these gifts were for the poor in Jerusalem, not to Paul himself.

Note first that it is the 'grace of God' that is the power that constrains the giving: Seven times in this Chapter in Corinthians speaking about giving do we find the Greek word charis, 'grace.' Then note that in God's sight it is not the wealth of the one who gives, nor the amount of his gift, that matters. And note the joy that we have here: the very opposite of giving grudgingly or of necessity. It reminds us of 2 Cor. 9:7, "The Lord loveth a cheerful giver." The word translated 'cheerful', is hilaros, from which we get the word 'hilarious' but it does not, of course, have any of the bad meaning that has become attached to this word in our day.

Then notice that apparently those concerned with this fund were almost unwilling to accept these gifts: not for any wrong in the givers: but I suspect because they well knew the depths of poverty from whence it came, and that they were giving 'beyond their power.' But these dear Macedonians prayed with much entreaty that they would accept their gifts. "And this they did, not as we had hoped," writes Paul, but in a far better way than he had ever hoped, — they "first gave their own selves to the Lord." Oh, that you, my dear Readers, might even now (if you never have before) give your own selves to the Lord: it is the very best gift that you can ever give: He is so worthy of it, and it is holy, acceptable unto God: and it is your reasonable or, logical, service. But also you will discover, — and prove when you discover, — that God's will for you is good, and acceptable to you, and perfect.

"He gives His very best to those
  Who leave the choice with Him."

But there are other sacrifices of which the Scriptures speak: or possibly the same sacrifices spoken of in other ways. In Ps. 4:5 and in Deut. 33:19, we read of 'sacrifices of righteousness.' In Ps. 51:17, we read, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise." It may be that from a broken spirit the sweetest odours go up to God: and it may be that some of the sorrows of the saints that puzzle us now, have this fragrance in view. A man may have great knowledge of the Word, and great eloquence expounding it; but if he has not 'a broken spirit,' (won, probably, from sorrows), he is likely to leave his hearers cold and untouched. Mr. Heney used to tell us that 'contrite', (of 'a contrite spirit,') comes from the same root as the word 'to triturate', which means 'to grind to fine powder,' as with a pestle and mortar. The sorrows we pass through do this for us: they make us quiet and gentle (and the Word tells us to be 'ambitious to be quiet'; 1 Thess. 4:11; Literal). We learn also from these sorrows what it means to be comforted by the Father of mercies, the God of all comfort, so that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble. (2 Cor. 1:3-4). Such a sacrifice (and it is a very costly sacrifice, perhaps one of the most costly of all) our God will not despise.

But there is another kind of sacrifice yet: and this sacrifice has kept ringing through my heart from the time I began these Meditations: indeed it is this sacrifice that has given the name to this book. You will find it spoken of in Ps. 27:6: "I will offer in His tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord." Strange as it may seem, this sacrifice does not clash with the sacrifice we have just been pondering: for it is one of the lovely 'contradictions' of the Scriptures that we can be 'sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing.' Yes, I think we can bring the sacrifice of a broken spirit, and sacrifices of joy, at the same time. And perhaps such are specially acceptable to God: the 'joy and sorrow mingling.'

The gifts of the Macedonian saints in 2 Cor. 8, were 'sacrifices of joy'. You will also remember that in Phil. 2:17 Paul had written: "Yea, and if I be poured forth upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy and rejoice with you all. For the same cause do ye joy and rejoice with me." I think this looks at the Philippian saints presenting themselves as a sacrifice; and Paul himself poured forth as a drink offering on their sacrifice: as was done in the days of old in the sacrifices of Israel. And each offered the sacrifice with joy. We read in Numbers 28:7: "In the holy place shalt thou cause the strong wine to be poured unto the Lord for a drink offering." And in Judges 9:13, the Vine asks: "Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man?" And in Ps. 104:15 we read: "wine that maketh glad the heart of man." So we see the wine speaks of joy; and the sacrifices of Paul, and of his dear brethren in Philippi, both the sacrifice of themselves, and of what they sent to Paul in their deep poverty, all tell us of 'Sacrifices of Joy.'

You have perhaps heard the story of the child who was keeping the best meat on his plate for his little dog. His mother asked him rather sharply, "Johnnie, why don't you eat up your dinner?" "I'm keeping it for Fido, Mummie." "Nonsense, eat your dinner at once, and you can collect the scraps on the plates after dinner for Fido." The child did as he was told, and with tears running down his cheeks, he was heard to say, "Fido dear, I wanted to give you a sacrifice, but its only a collection." A sacrifice costs us something, often a collection costs next to nothing. Johnnie's sacrifice to Fido would have been 'a sacrifice of joy.' Love is the secret.

What a promise! "My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." The very arrangement of the words is precious. Our need and His riches are strung together, looped as if by two bands. Some have sought to limit the 'need' to temporal needs: but 'all your need' certainly precludes that: and there will be no temporal needs to supply 'in glory.' No, Beloved, take it as it stands. Endorse the promise, and accept it with joy and thanksgiving. It surely includes temporal needs: and in no mean or niggardly way: but according to His wealth, in glory, in Christ Jesus. A millionaire might give a penny to a beggar, but he would not be giving according to his wealth. Our God is the 'Giving God,' and the Lord Jesus said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive:' and He will ever have the more blessed place.

Years ago when horse-cabs were the custom in Canada, it was usual to give the cabman a tip of 25 cents. The story is told of one of Canada's richest men who drove home one night in a cab. When he got out he handed the cabby the correct fare and a 25 cent tip. The cabby turned it over in his hand, and said, "You know, Sir, when I drive your son home, he always gives me half a dollar tip." "Yes," the wealthy man replied, "But he has a rich father." The son was giving in some measure "according to his wealth." I regret to say the father was not doing so: but our 'rich Father' will never treat us so: He gives "according to His wealth." And we might bear in mind that our 'rich Father' has said, "Freely ye have received, freely give."

"Love ever gives, forgives, outlives;
 And ever stands with open hands,
 And while it lives it gives.
 For this is Love's prerogative —
 To give, and give, and give."
        (From, 'Straight Talks')

But let us notice it is all our need that My God promises to supply; our need, as one has pointed out, not our greed. And I am so glad to think it does mean our spiritual needs as well as our temporal needs: needs for our soul and our spirit, for these are often greater than the needs of our bodies: need for more devotedness to Christ: need for more earnestness in finding time for prayer and the Word: need to 'break the power of cancelled sin.' And the heart that knoweth its own bitterness will know the other needs over which we so often yearn. And the promise is, "My God shall fill full every need of yours." Whether we use every or all in this verse, both are in the singular, so we are meant to look at each individual need separately: we may spread them out before 'My God' one by one. And yet the word does mean all, and we may still use the lovely translation to which we are accustomed in the Authorised Version, but just remember that when God looks at your need, He sees each, single need individually: and we may do the same.

I have been linking together the 'all' of 'all your need' with the 'all' of 'all your care' in 1 Peter 5:7; and I have found them very sweet. 'My God' gives to me that which meets all my need; and I cast upon Him — give to Him — all my care. What an exchange! And, as Canon Baskerville points out, just as it is quite impossible to catalogue all for our needs: so it is equally impossible to catalogue all our cares. The biggest, as well as the smallest, are all included in that little word all, whether it be needs or cares. Thanks be to God!

And so closes this exquisite description of the Philippians' gift. It reminds one rather of the water from the well of Bethlehem that the three mighty men brought to David, and he poured it out before the Lord, as if it were the lives of those three men, too precious for man's use: though I am sure the Apostle used this gift from the Philippian church: but first he presents it, as it were, to the Lord; an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God.

And now, Paul, have you nothing to give in return for such a precious gift from those who love you so well? No, Paul must answer, I have nothing. A cloak, and a few books and parchments are all the possessions we ever hear Paul possessed. And yet he can say, though having nothing, yet he possesses all things: and so he can send them a promise, not of anything from himself, but from "My God". "I have been filled full" he had written to the Philippians, from what you sent me: now I can promise that "My God will fill full every need of yours, according to His wealth, in glory, in Christ Jesus." He uses exactly the same word for what "My God" will do to them, as he had used of what they had done for him. Canon Baskerville says that Moody once spoke of this verse as a blank cheque:
  The firm - "My God"
  The promise - "shall supply"
  The amount - "All your need"
  The capital - "His riches"
  The Bank address - "in glory"
  The signature: - "Christ Jesus"
"This cheque must be endorsed by the person to whom it is made payable."
And Canon Baskerville continues: "All your need". Spread it out before the Lord - needs for your body, for your soul, for yourselves, for your families, needs for the present and for the future — "all your need" — it is quite impossible to catalogue all, but God promises "to fill up all your need". Who shall do it? "My GOD". That is grand! Paul says, See how "my God" has supplied me — "my God shall supply you." The same God is our God. Think of that. His arm is not waxed short, neither His heart grown hard towards any of His children (Isa. 50:2; 59:1)."

"Now unto our God and Father (be) all the glory* unto the ages of the ages."** Amen. (4:20).

{*Mr. Darby has a note in his translation at this word glory, as follows: "In Greek there is an emphatic article, 'the glory,' the due divine glory, which cannot be given in English. If 'the glory' were said, it would in English rather mean the glory of that of which he had been speaking." That is, I understand, the glory of that wondrous promise to His own. But 'the glory' intended as expressed in Greek, is all glory, everywhere, for all things: all, all is His by right. Dr. Vaughan uses the word all to translate this emphatic article; and we have followed him in this.

**"Unto the ages of the ages" is the literal translation of the words: but the way they are usually translated, "for ever and ever," is undoubtedly a true meaning to give them. They tell out 'the endless cycles of eternal life.' There are two ways to seek to give the conception of eternity. One is by the negative: 'without end, unending,' the other is by increasing a vast space of time indefinitely: this is enlarged into the plural number, and then further amplified, by the addition of a like genitive, also in the plural, so as to make the ages themselves to consist of ages, thus magnifying and multiplying the total sum to an extent beyond expression in human figures or numbers. The particular phrase before us, the double plural, appears to be used only in the New Testament; four times by Paul, once by Peter, and eleven times in Revelation. For a peculiar form of the same idea see Eph. 3:21, 'Unto all the generations of the age of the ages.' (Based on Vaughan)}

In Verse 19 Paul had said, 'My God,' but in Verse 20 you will note he says 'our God.' And not 'our God' only, but 'our God and Father.' The our belongs both to God and to Father: He is 'our God,' and He is 'our Father.' A loving father will always (to the best of his ability) supply every need of his children: so, I suppose, as Paul wrote of 'My God' supplying every need of His children in Philippi, it brought to his mind the Father's heart: but He is also their God. You remember immediately after our Lord's resurrection, He said to Mary, "I ascend unto My Father, and your Father; and to My God, and your God." Before the cross and the empty grave, He could not speak in this way: but now Paul can say, and we can say with him, 'our God and our Father.' (John 20:17).

Real true worship is the overflow of the heart to God: and this is exactly what we see in this lovely little verse. That overflow of heart cannot be taught, and cannot be learned: it is spontaneous: it bursts forth from a full heart, just as we see here. There are many such bursts of praise in the Scriptures* and they are all different: they are not planned, they are not of men, but come from the Holy Spirit within us. What can we say to such a promise as the one we have just been considering? What could a penniless beggar say to a Royal Giver who freely gave him a blank cheque, good for an unlimited amount: a cheque that only needs endorsement — only needs to be appropriated — only needs to be taken as my own: and I have untold riches: what can I say to such an offer, when that offer is made by the Lord God Almighty, my Father? In Revelation, Chapter 5, who dare to say where the burst of praise begins, and where it ends? "The elders fell down and worshipped!" is the last we see in that glorious scene (See New Translation); and shall not we say, — as we fall down and worship, —

"Now unto our God and Father be all the glory unto the ages of the ages. Amen."

{*See Romans 11:33-36; Romans 16:25-27; Ephesians 3:20; 1 Timothy 6:14-16; Revelation 1:5-6 & Revelation 5.}

Now to our God and Father
    May all the glory be:
To ages of the ages,
    Through all Eternity.

Eternity's past ages —
    Eternity to come —
Alike tell out Thy glory —
    The glory of Thy Name.

But, Oh, a brighter glory
    Shone when Thou gav'st Thy Son,
To tell Love's wondrous story,
    To save poor, ruined man.

Centre of all this glory
    Lies in a cross of shame:
For there Thy Son, our Saviour,
    Hath glorified Thy Name.

So, to our God, our Father,
    Shall all the glory be:
To ages of the ages,
    Through all Eternity!

Chapter 43

The Final Greetings
"Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you. All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar's household.
"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ (be) with you all. Amen."

"Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers with me greet you. All the saints greet you, but most-of-all the-(ones) from the household of Caesar.
"The grace of-the Lord Jesus Christ (be) with your spirit."

Philippians 4:21 to 23

"Greet every saint in Christ Jesus". (Phil. 4:21).

In verse 19 we read of "every need". That took account of every single individual need by itself. Each need was looked at and considered separately. And "My God" would fill full each one. In the Verse before us now Paul sends greeting to "every saint", individual greetings to each one. Perhaps many of those saints had been won to Christ by Paul: he probably knew each one intimately, and loved each one individually, and that individual greeting would mean much to them. There was a meeting I knew well, nearly every individual in it had been won by a dear old brother who was nearing Home. One day he said to me, "I love to stop singing sometimes in the meetings, and just close my eyes, and sit and listen; and I can pick out each individual voice, and I know each one of them so well". I think the word, "Greet every saint" has in it something of the same thought.

But each saint is not only in Philippi, but "in Christ Jesus". We got the same thought in the first Verse of our Epistle: "To all the saints in Christ Jesus being in Philippi". And now at the close of the letter he again reminds them that they are in Christ Jesus. Some think this verse should be translated, "Greet in Christ Jesus every saint". I suppose that would correspond to one of our own letters today, where we close, "With love in Christ Jesus to each saint". In either case, we are reminded that we are "in Christ". But the whole Epistle has been full of this precious thought, that we are in Christ: "I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ". (1:8); "my bonds in Christ are manifest". (1:13); "Your rejoicing may be more abundant in Christ Jesus for me". (1:26); "consolation in Christ." (2:1). "I trust in the Lord Jesus". (2:19); "I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come" (2:24); "Receive him therefore in the Lord". (2:29); "Rejoice in the Lord". (3:1); "Rejoice in Christ Jesus". (3:3); "The high calling of God in Christ Jesus". (3:14); "Stand fast in the Lord". (4:1); "Be of the same mind in the Lord". (4:2); "Rejoice in the Lord alway". (4:4); "I rejoiced in the Lord greatly". (4:10); "I have strength for all things in the One that gives me power". (4:13, New Trans.); "His wealth in glory, in Christ Jesus". (4:19); "Greet every saint in Christ Jesus". (4:21); Let us never forget, then, that we are in Christ: also let us remember Christ in us, the hope of glory. (Col. 1:27).

"The brothers that are with me greet you." (Phil. 4:21) It would seem that these brothers refer to Paul's special companions, who were present with him for various reasons, not residents of Rome. Bishop Lightfoot gives a most interesting collection of these honoured names, which I hope you may enjoy as much as I have done: he says:

"Of occasional visitors in Rome, his converts or his colleagues in the Gospel, the companions of his travels and the delegates of foreign churches, not a few are named. His youthful disciple and associate Timotheus, the best beloved of his spiritual sons, seems to have been with him during the whole or nearly the whole of his captivity.1 Another friend also, who had shared with him the perils of the voyage, Luke the "beloved physician", now his fellow-labourer and perhaps his medical attendant, hereafter his biographer, is constantly by his side.2 His two favourite Macedonian churches are well represented among his companions: Philippi despatches Epaphroditus with pecuniary(?) aid, welcome to him as a relief of his want but doubly welcome as a token of their devoted love:3 Aristarchus is present from Thessalonica,4 a tried associate, who some years before had imperilled his life with St. Paul at Ephesus 5 and now shared his captivity at Rome.6 Delegates from the Asiatic churches too were with him: Tychicus,7 a native of the Roman province of Asia and probably of Ephesus its capita1,8 the Apostle's companion both in earlier and later days: 9 and Epaphras the evangelist of his native Colosse, who came to consult Paul on the dangerous heresies then threatening this and the neighbouring churches over which he watched with intense anxiety.10 Besides these were other friends old and new: one pair especially, whose names are linked together by contrast; John Mark, who, having deserted in former years, has now returned to his post and is once more a loyal soldier of Christ;11 and Demas, as yet faithful to his allegiance, who hereafter will turn renegade and desert the Apostle in his sorest need.12 To these must be added a disciple of the circumcision, whose surname 'the just' proclaims his devotion to his former faith — one Jesus, to us a name only, but to St. Paul much more than a name, for amidst the general defection of the Jewish converts he stood by the Apostle almost alone.13 Lastly, there was Philemon's runaway slave Onesimus, 'not now a slave, but above a slave, a brother beloved,' whose career is the most touching episode in the apostolic history and the noblest monument of the moral power of the Gospel.14
{1. His name appears in the opening salutations of the Epistles to the Philippians, Colossians and Philemon: compare also Phil. 2:19-23. It may perhaps be inferred from St. Luke's silence, Acts 27:2, that Timotheus did not accompany St. Paul on his journey to Rome, but joined him soon after his arrival.
2. Col. 4:14, Philemon 24.
3. Phil. 2:25-30, 4:14-18.
4. Col. 4:10, Philemon 24.
5. Acts 19:29.
6. In Col. 4:10, St. Paul styles him 'my fellow-prisoner'. Perhaps however this may refer to the incident at Ephesus already alluded to (Acts 19:29). Or does it signify a spiritual subjection … so that it may be compared to fellow-bondslave (Col. 1:7; 4:7), and fellow-soldier (Phil. 2:25, Philemon 2)? St. Paul uses the term fellow-prisoner also of Epaphras (Philemon 23) and of his 'kinsmen' Andronicus and Junias or Junta (Rom. 16:7).
7. Eph. 6:21; Col. 4:7.
8. Acts 20:4; 2 Tim. 4:12. He is mentioned together with Trophimus, and Trophimus was an Ephesian, Acts 21:29.
9. Acts 20:4; 2 Tim. 4:12; Compare Titus 3:12. Perhaps also he is one of the anonymous brethren in 2 Cor. 8:18, 22.
10. Col. 1:7; 4:12.
11. Col. 4:10; Philemon 24; Compare 2 Tim. 4:11.
12. Col. 4:14; Philemon 24; Compare 2 Tim. 4:10.
13. Col. 4:11.
14. Col. 4:9, and Philemon 10, etc.

It is not of course suggested that all these persons were with Paul at one and the same time; but it does seem that all these visited him during the time of his imprisonment in Rome, and some were with him for a long time: so it is very possible Luke was one of those referred to in Phil. 4:21. It seems probable that Luke had stayed in Philippi for a considerable time: possibly it was his home: so he would be well known to the saints there, and they would specially value his greeting. Who the others were, if any, with him at this time, we cannot say; but possibly several more.

"All the saints greet you, but most of all the ones from the household of Caesar". (4:22).

At the beginning of the Epistle to the Philippians we read: "To all the saints in Christ Jesus being in Philippi". (1:1). Now at the close of the Epistle we find the very same words: "All the saints greet you". That was all the saints in Rome. It makes one think of the greeting the Apostle sent to the saints in Rome: "To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, saints by calling" (Rom. 1:7). No smaller circle than "all the saints", whether in Philippi or in Rome will satisfy the Apostle, or be pleasing to the heart of God. And the same is true today, whether it be London or New York; Bombay or Hong Kong; Melbourne or Shanghai: God looks at "all the saints". Yesterday I read a message to "all in our fellowship". That is not God's way. God does not send His message to all the Anglicans or Baptists or Plymouth Brethren. Men make parties: but God's heart always takes in "all the saints".

And please do not for a moment suppose that "all the saints" means all the specially holy people, like "Saint Paul" or "Saint Peter," as man, — not God — calls them, or any other good men. No: You are just as truly a saint as Paul or Peter, if you are washed in the precious blood of Christ as they were. And do not think that you are "called to be a saint" as our ordinary English Bible puts it in Romans 1:7. Paul was a tentmaker by calling: he did not have to try to be a tentmaker, the words "called to be a tentmaker" might suggest. Just so, we are saints: "called to be saints". Paul was a tentmaker by calling, and also a saint by calling, and an apostle by calling. He was not trying to be a tentmaker or a saint or an apostle. He was each of these by his calling. Just so, you are a saint by calling, if you are saved, redeemed with that precious blood.

And what is a saint? A saint is a holy person, a person set apart. You may say, I often do not act like a saint, so I don't think I can be one. But if you belong to Christ, you are a saint: a saint by calling. I might be a farmer by calling, but I might be lazy and fond of pleasure, and let my farm get in bad shape. Still I am a farmer by calling, even though I may be a very poor one.

Though all the saints sent greetings, yet there was a special group marked out as sending special greetings: and a group that is apt to surprise us very much. It is not a group held together by special views of baptism or church government, but rather linked together by their secular calling: and strange to say it was a group that might include slaves or nobles.

"All the saints greet you, but most of all, (or, chiefly, or especially), the ones from the household of Caesar". (4:22).

Bishop Lightfoot brings forward much proof to show that "the household of Caesar" included a vast number of persons, either actual or former slaves, and freemen, who filled every sort of office from the most menial to the highest: something like the British "Civil Service". All were "persons in the Emperor's service, whether slaves or freemen, in Italy and even in the provinces". Bishop Moule says: "The literature of sepulchral inscriptions at Rome is peculiarly rich in allusions to "the Household". And it is from this quarter, particularly from discoveries in it made early in the last century, that Lightfoot gets good reasons for thinking that in Phil. 4:22 we may, quite possibly, be reading a greeting from Rome sent by the very persons (speaking roundly) who are greeted in the Epistle to Rome (Chapter 16). A place of burial on the Appian Way, devoted to the ashes of Imperial freemen and slaves, and other similar receptacles, all to be dated with practical certainty about the middle period of the first century, yield the following names: Amplias, Urbanus, Stachys, Apelles, Tryphoena, Tryphosa, Rufus, Hermes, Hermas, Philologus, Julius, Nereis; a name which might have denoted the sister (see Rom. 16:15) of a man Nereus". (The Epistle to the Romans, by H.C.G. Moule: P. 424, Hodder & Stoughton edition). All the above names are found in Romans 16, except the last.

Prof. Blaiklock in his delightful little book "Out of the Earth: the Witness of Archeology to the New Testament" Paternoster Press) shows that by the end of the First Century Christianity had gained a place in the highest circles of Rome: Flavius Clemens, a cousin of the Emperor, was put to death, and his wife Domitilla, a niece of the Emperor, was banished, for confessing Christ. Next to the Emperor these two held the highest rank in the Empire.

You will recall that Philippi was 'a Colony,' and so may have had various officials from Rome; also it was settled in part by disbanded soldiers from the Roman army; so it is quite possible that with all these, there were some who were personally acquainted with some of the saints in Caesar's household in Rome.

"Tho' vice, flagrant and unblushing,
 Nero's palace boldly trod,
 In that vile court's baleful precincts
 There were some who walked with God.

 Like the few souls, who, in Sardis
 Kept unspotted from the world,
 So these saints of Caesar's household
 Held their stainless flag unfurled.

 Trusting in their Saviour's merits,
 Leaning on their Saviour's might,
 They were proof against temptation;
 Now they walk with Him in white!

 Lord, Thy power can keep Thy children
 In the most unlikely place.
 There is no temptation sent them
 Which is greater than Thy grace.
    (Author unknown)

But let us never forget that all the saints in Rome sent greetings to all the saints in Philippi: and not the slightest distinction is made between a slave and one highborn. All are 'one in Christ Jesus:' 'one spirit, one soul, one body, one loaf, one new man, one flock': just as there is 'one Spirit, one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is above all, and through all, and in you all.'

"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit" (4:23).

Our beloved Authorized Version has, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all", but the correct reading is almost certainly as shown: "with your spirit". And why, when writing to "all the saints" does the apostle not say, "be with your spirits"? Why should spirit be singular, instead of plural? I think the answer is that they were one body, "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body". (1 Cor. 12:13). One body has but one spirit. And therefore the Apostle, by the Spirit of God, uses spirit, not spirits. But there is more: In Chapter 1:27, we read: "Only worthily of the Gospel of Christ live as citizens, in order that whether coming and seeing you, whether being absent, I am hearing the things concerning you, that you are standing firm in one spirit with one soul, together contending for the faith of the Gospel". By doctrine they were one body: they were made one body by the one Spirit, the Holy Spirit, dwelling in them: so had only one spirit: but in practice also, they had but one spirit; or, rather, the Apostle exhorts them that he might hear this of them: for as a matter of fact, there were two sisters amongst them who had not one spirit. Perhaps these last two words of the Epistle are a final message from the heart of the Apostle to these two sisters, a message to be understood fully by them alone. Perhaps it is a message that some of us need at the present time.

In the Second Verse of our Epistle, Paul had written: "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:" and now at the close he writes: "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit." He begins with grace, and he ends with grace. They owed all to grace, and so do we. Yet, sad to say, naturally our hearts turn from Grace to Law. We think Law can make us what we ought to be: we think making rules can heal these sad quarrels and make us holy, with one spirit: but we are wrong. The Spirit never calls the Galatians (who loved Law) 'holy' or 'saints.' The Apostle, directed by the Spirit of God, is right. What we need is to know more the power of Grace. "The power of unity is grace; and, as man is a sinner and departed from God, the power of gathering is grace — grace manifested in Jesus on the cross, and bringing us to God in heaven, and bringing us in Him who is gone there. This is holiness." (J.N.D., "Grace the Power of Gathering).

    "May Grace, free Grace, inspire
    Our souls with strength divine;
May ev'ry thought to God aspire,
    And grace in service shine.

    "Grace all the work shall crown
    Through everlasting days;
It lays in heaven the topmost stone,
    And well deserves the praise."
        (Toplady & Doddridge)

* * * * *
CHRIST! I am Christ's! and let the name suffice you,
    Ay, for me too He greatly hath sufficed;
Lo, with no winning words I would entice you,
    Paul has no honour and no friend but Christ.
* * *
Yea, thro' life, death, thro' sorrow and thro' sinning
    He shall suffice me, for He hath sufficed:
Christ is the end, for Christ was the beginning,
    Christ the beginning, for the end is CHRIST.
        (Frederic W. H. Myers)